News in brief - 12 February 2015

February 12, 2015

UK general election 2015
More Oxbridge ties in the House?

The next Parliament will likely include a disproportionately high number of MPs who graduated from Oxbridge, research suggests. A study by the Sutton Trust, examining the backgrounds of prospective parliamentary candidates who were thought to have a reasonable possibility of victory, found 19 per cent had a degree from the universities of Oxford or Cambridge, compared with less than 1 per cent of the UK population. Some 55 per cent attended a Russell Group university, in contrast with less than 11 per cent of all UK adults. Only one in 10 have no degree, against a national figure of 62 per cent. The study, which looked at the educational backgrounds of 209 would-be MPs, concludes that the next Parliament is unlikely to be much more diverse than the current one, in which 24 per cent of MPs have Oxbridge degrees. Fifty-four per cent of serving MPs have a Russell Group education, and 17 per cent have no degree.

Scottish governance bill
Principals want union-free boards

Proposals to reserve places on the governing bodies of Scotland’s universities for trade union nominees have been criticised by principals. The Holyrood government’s planned higher education governance bill would require higher education institutions to have representatives of one academic and one administrative union on governing bodies. In its consultation response, Universities Scotland warns this would create a conflict of interest between representatives’ responsibilities to their union, and as council members. Pete Downes, the organisation’s convenor and principal of the University of Dundee, said institutions were “committed” to working with unions but that it would be “undemocratic to privilege the interests of the minority of staff who have chosen to join a trade union”.

Media and journalism studies
Bursaries aim to open doors

Twenty television production and broadcast journalism undergraduates will receive £3,000 bursaries from the Royal Television Society. The awards of £1,000 a year are intended to help students from poorer backgrounds enter a media world criticised for being too dominated by affluent Oxbridge alumni. In addition, the charity will award five £3,000 bursaries to computing and engineering students hoping to enter media-related industries. Recipients will also be helped to obtain a work experience placement.

Graduate destinations
East, West, home is initially best

More than two-thirds of all graduates stay close to home for their first job, a new report has revealed. An analysis of Higher Education Statistics Agency data by the Higher Education Careers Services Unit, published on 4 February, identifies four distinct graduate migration patterns within the UK. The largest group, comprising 45.9 per cent of all employed graduates who left university in 2013, were “regional loyals” who studied and then worked in their home region. They made up a particularly large proportion of the graduate workforce in the North East and North West of England, as well as Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The second largest group, “regional returners”, moved away from their home region to study but returned there to work. Accounting for 24.7 per cent of the graduate workforce, they were particularly numerous in the East, the South East and the West Midlands.

Follow Times Higher Education on Twitter

The results of the 2015 Times Higher Education Best University Workplace Survey got our followers talking. “Now we have seen the best, is there a worst university workplace list?” asked @ZorluSenyucel. “I can nominate a couple.” The study also found that 31 per cent of scholars think international students’ English skills are not up to scratch. @andrewayton said the finding was “so true and utterly damning” but @professor_chef seemed less concerned. “I don’t think it would be that much different in any other sector or industry”, read his tweet, adding that it was the “modern condition”. The results also revealed that 48 per cent of academics are critical of their university’s leadership team. “So few?”, responded @AileenMcHarg.

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