In a regular look at the recruitment market, Pat Leon speaks to Nottingham University pro vice-chancellor Don Grierson about his institution's quest to raise its international profile.
Nottingham University has launched a vigorous recruitment campaign for 20 new research chairs in a bid to strengthen its position as a world-class research-led institution. The chairs carry with them supporting academic, research and administrative posts, infrastructure, equipment, start-up funds and "highly competitive" salaries. The university also plans to run an upgraded research-training programme, as well as making Pounds 500,000 a year available to encourage study leave for all staff.
The university is one of a swelling number of institutions outside the "golden triangle" of Oxbridge and London universities scrambling to attract rising and established academic stars ahead of the next research assessment exercise.
Nottingham's sights, however, are set even higher. Don Grierson, pro vice-chancellor for research and industry, said: "We are a top ten university in the UK, but we want to secure our position as one of the world's leading universities by 2010."
The university, which already has a Malaysian campus, is expanding into China and, as a partner in Universitas 21 Global, is also trying to get a foothold in the global online student and research market.
Professor Grierson said that, as well as 20 chairs, Nottingham is appointing 100 new teaching and research staff.
"The campaign is to improve our research performance across the board. We are recruiting internationally, not just locally. The best applications are just as likely to come from 5,000 miles away as 50.
"It is important to remain competitive internationally, and it is a good time strategically to keep ahead of the RAE.
"There's competition in the UK research transfer market, but Nottingham's campaign is more international. If we can bring people back from the US because we have the facilities and attractions, it will be good for the UK," he said.
The new chairs are in engineering and physical sciences; arts and humanities; social sciences and education, and biological and biomedical sciences. Strategic areas covered range from planet formation to music analysis, the rural economy and cancer.
Global aspirations also lie behind the Oxford Internet Institute's search for academics of international standing for two professorships: one in internet governance and regulation and the other in society and the internet. Non-stipendiary fellowships at Keble and Mansfield colleges, respectively, are attached to the professorships.
The OII, which launched last year, boasts that it is one of the world's first truly multidisciplinary internet institutes based in a major university. It aims "to put Oxford, the UK and Europe at the centre of debates about how the internet could and should develop".