News in brief - 18 April 2013

April 18, 2013

European Access Network
World-widening participation aid

A global network of students, academics, politicians and business leaders has been launched with the aim of promoting access to university for socially disadvantaged groups. The World Congress on Action to Post- Secondary Education includes student ambassadors from more than 20 countries from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, and is sponsored by the Lumina Foundation, a US-based educational charity. It was launched in the UK at a reception at the House of Commons on 15 April. Organised by the European Access Network, the congress will encourage widening participation practitioners around the world to share best practice on access.

University-industry collaboration
CIHE rebrands, refocuses

The Council for Industry and Higher Education has changed its name to the National Centre for Universities and Business. The establishment of such a centre was recommended in the 2012 Review of Business-University Collaboration led by Sir Tim Wilson. Following the rebrand on 9 April, the organisation’s remit is to develop, promote and support world-class collaboration between UK universities and businesses, with a focus on students’ entrepreneurial and employability skills and on maximising the value of the UK’s strength in research and innovation. The CIHE previously said that the centre would publish annual “state of the relationship reports”, with the first due later this year, aimed at influencing policy in the area of university-business links.

Open-access publishing
RCUK has third thoughts on fees

Research Councils UK has changed its guidance on open-access publishing to remove the exhortation that institutions and authors make sure a “proper market in article fees” operates. The passage was included in RCUK’s revised policy guidance, published in March, stating that price should be “one of the factors that is taken into consideration when deciding where to publish”. It noted that the research excellence framework’s lack of regard for where papers were published “should be helpful in this respect”.The paragraph was seen as a response to fears that prestigious journals could charge very high article fees, safe in the knowledge that researchers would still pursue the career boost that publishing in them would provide. But an RCUK spokeswoman said that the passage was removed from the most recent guidelines, published on 8 April, as “it was felt that, on reflection, it wasn’t helpful”.

Massive open online courses
Still a mystery to many

Administrators at more than four in 10 European universities, responding on behalf of their institutions, said they were not au fait with massive open online courses (Moocs), a study has found. A total of 175 institutions took part in a survey conducted to coincide with the European University Association’s annual conference in Ghent on 11 and 12 April. Responses reveal that only 58 per cent had heard of Moocs, although 88 per cent wanted to learn more. Just a third could confirm that Moocs had been discussed at their university, according to Internationalisation in European Higher Education: European Policies, Institutional Strategies and EUA Support. The great majority of the questionnaires were completed by institutions’ international office or by senior management.

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