News in brief - 10 July 2014

July 10, 2014

Vice-chancellors’ pay
Goldsmiths gives students a say

A London university has become the first in the UK to allow a student to join the panel that decides its vice-chancellor’s pay. A student will now sit on the remuneration committee of Goldsmiths, University of London, which decides the pay level of the warden, currently Patrick Loughrey, and other senior staff. Universities’ salary-setting bodies have long been criticised for being secretive, with a report by the University and College Union in April revealing that only two institutions had been willing to disclose minutes from such meetings. The UCU said that Goldsmiths was the first UK institution to include a student representative on a remuneration committee. The student will be a full voting member of the committee, which also decides management pay increases and severance packages. Goldsmiths Students’ Union – which has been lobbying the college on the issue for several months – hailed the decision as a “landmark victory for the students’ union movement”.

Academics’ pensions
They’ll never have it so good

Young academics will be 30 per cent worse off in retirement than their older colleagues, a report has claimed. The study by the Intergenerational Foundation indicates that a decline in final-salary pensions and smaller pay increases mean that new entrants to the profession will be much poorer pensioners than peers retiring today. The analysis provided in Higher Education: A Tale of Two Payslips concludes that the problem is attributable to factors including rising life expectancy and the University Superannuation Scheme’s large deficit. The report’s author, Louis Goddard, said that for the profession to reflect the diversity of the UK in the future, “and not an anaemic caste of pay-to-play dilettantes, then those who benefitted most from the Golden Age, and who now sit in positions of academic and political authority, need to take action now”.

Oxford University Press
New markets fuel success story

Oxford University Press says that a 10.9 per cent increase in turnover from emerging markets has helped to drive growth in the organisation. Publishing its annual report for 2013-14 last week, OUP said that revenues from emerging markets now accounted for 41 per cent of total turnover. It said that its Asia Education division, which is responsible for China, India, Malaysia, Singapore and Pakistan, saw double-digit growth, partly driven by expansion in higher education in India. Digital sales for the company grew by 7.5 per cent to £144 million, representing 20 per cent of total sales. Overall OUP – a department of the University of Oxford, which receives a percentage of its surpluses every year – recorded a total turnover of £759 million. It produced a surplus of £114 million, an increase of 3.9 per cent on the previous year.

Work environment
Send them your wish list

What kind of management structure and work environment best suits academics and researchers? An Anglo-German research group is conducting a worldwide study – funded by the Leverhulme Trust – looking at how scholars are managed with the aim of identifying the optimal work environment. The investigators, who have created a 10-minute questionnaire that they hope will be completed by researchers and academics from around the world, say they are keen to hear from UK academics. The survey can be accessed at http://designingthescientificwork? Its findings will be made available next year on the same website.

Follow Times Higher Education on Twitter

Last week’s coverage of two major reports on the National Student Survey, which revealed that there had been a large increase since 2005 in the proportion of students giving the same answer to every question, got our Twitter followers going. “Hilarious: students are breaking the NSS by agreeing with the questions” was the response from @ProfDaveAndress, while @lizarmstrong2 questioned whether the findings suggested that there was “survey fatigue” creeping in on campus. Meanwhile, commenting on fears expressed in the reports that ever-higher scores could “undermine the credibility” of the survey, @tomhenri said: “How can you undermine the credibility of the NSS when it never has had any credibility?”

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