News in brief - 15 January 2015

January 15, 2015

Higher education funding and loans
MPs call for sustainable finances

MPs have passed a motion urging the government to outline proposals “that will sustain funding” for higher education “while addressing the projected deficit in public funding”. Many of the dozen or so MPs who took part in the backbench debate on 8 January urged the government to hold a review of higher education funding and the student loans system. The Commons debate followed a critical report on student loans issued last year by the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee, which raised concerns about the sustainability of the system. Speaking in the debate, Greg Clark, the universities, science and cities minister, encouraged the select committee to conduct a “stocktake of the system” in the next Parliament – but added that he expected that they would endorse the current arrangements.

National Student Survey
Hefce pays trainee teachers’ tab

University teacher training students will remain in this year’s National Student Survey after England’s funding council took the “exceptional” step of agreeing to fund their participation. The decision came days after the Higher Education Funding Council for England revealed that the National College for Teaching and Leadership – the Department for Education agency that funds teacher training – would no longer pay for such students’ involvement in the survey. As a result, Hefce had asked universities not to include such students as part of the NSS in 2015. But in a further letter sent to universities on 8 January – and after an outcry over the funding decision – Hefce stated that it would “on an exceptional basis underwrite the inclusion of ITT students in the NSS 2015”, despite the cohort being “outside our funding remit”.

Scientific innovation
PM vaunts North West’s potential

David Cameron and George Osborne have trumpeted universities’ involvement in plans to boost the economy of the North West. Speaking in Manchester, the prime minister and the chancellor said they planned to make the region a “global centre of outstanding scientific innovation”, partly through investing in the area’s higher education institutions. Mr Cameron spoke of the importance of rebalancing the UK economy and investing in the country’s major cities. However, responding to the speech, Labour’s Lucy Powell, MP for Manchester Central, said Mr Cameron “had a cheek” coming to the city at a time when the local council was facing drastic cuts.

Widening participation
Sutton Trust funds 38 US places

Thirty-eight UK students have been accepted on to undergraduate programmes at leading US universities as part of a scheme to help British applicants from lower-income families study overseas. All the students are to have their fees and living costs paid as part of the Sutton Trust US Programme. Of the students who have won places, about two-thirds come from households earning less than £25,000 a year, while 70 per cent will be the first member of their family to attend university. The Sutton Trust runs the scheme in partnership with the US-UK Fulbright Commission, a not-for-profit organisation that aims to promote educational exchange.

Correction

In last week’s article “Senior staff salary details kept secret despite ruling”, the University of East Anglia was listed as one of the institutions that refused to release any details to Times Higher Education regarding the pay of highly paid non-academic staff. It did, in fact, disclose that two professional service staff and 38 academic staff earned more than £100,000 a year. We apologise for the error.

Follow Times Higher Education on Twitter

Last week’s feature on multidisciplinary departments had many of our Twitter followers chiming in with their experiences and opinions. @MaxineDavid tweeted that it was a “good piece”, and described it as “echoing much of my own recent experience”. @DrAlisonMachin’s contribution was to say that there is “existing research on interprofessional working in health” that could be used to “inform other multi-disciplinary staff development”. @flo_dem got right to the point when describing what she took from the article, tweeting its title (“Multidisciplinary departments: do they work?”) along with “Results: mixed!”

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