News in brief - 18 July 2013

July 18, 2013

Saudi Arabian scholarship programme
America, here they come

Huge investment by the government of Saudi Arabia in overseas scholarships brought a flood of young Saudis to the US, an analysis suggests. Globally Mobile Saudi Students: Agents of economic, social & cultural transformation?, a report by World Education Services, shows that almost half of all Saudis studying abroad in 2011-12 went to the US, compared with just 17 per cent in 2004-05. There has also been a rise in the proportion of students going to UK, Canadian and Australian universities at the expense of institutions in Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan. The King Abdullah Scholarship programme, launched in 2005, is now funding 150,000 Saudi students worldwide.

Innovation and Knowledge Centres
SynbiCITE gains Imperial host

Imperial College London is to host SynbiCITE, a new Innovation and Knowledge Centre in synthetic biology. The £10 million centre, announced on 11 July, is designed to provide a bridge between academia and industry in the emerging field, which has been targeted by universities and science minister David Willetts as one of the “eight great technologies” that the UK should prioritise. The centre will be funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and the Technology Strategy Board. It is the seventh such centre co-funded by the EPSRC and will be a national resource involving researchers from 17 other academic institutions as well as 13 industrial partners.

Pathways to Law
Access initiative expands

A programme promoting access to legal careers for “low- and middle-income state school students” is to expand the number of universities it works with. The Sutton Trust’s Pathways to Law programme will be extended to 12 universities over the next four years. New members will include the universities of Oxford, Exeter and Essex, and the University of Nottingham in partnership with the Nottingham Law School at Nottingham Trent University. The scheme will provide 1,200 places over the next four years. Its expansion has been enabled by a £1.2 million grant from the Legal Education Foundation, which was created with monies received from the £200 million sale of the College of Law to Montagu Private Equity.

UK innovation policy
Have they made it perfectly clear?

The government has defended its innovation policy against MPs’ criticisms that the lack of a coherent strategy was harming UK business. The alignment between the research base and the innovation agenda was “fragmented and confusing and…extremely difficult for small businesses to engage with”, concluded a March report from the Commons Science and Technology Committee, Bridging the Valley of Death: Improving the Commercialisation of Research. Responding on 11 July, the government says its existing plan, Innovation and Research Strategy for Growth, incorporates a wide range of measures to ensure that the resources of the UK research base are fully used to support innovation. “The Research Councils are specifically focusing on how to improve the quality and clarity of their communications in order to reduce any potential confusion, and make approaches from businesses of any size a less complex process,” says the response.

Follow Times Higher Education on Twitter

Last week’s cover feature detailing 10 truths your PhD supervisor will never tell you got people talking. @llordllama was not impressed by some of the advice in the article, in particular the assertion that supervision meetings should be held weekly. “Ahahaha, no honestly - fat chance of that with academic workloads!” he tweeted. “Given the workloads of academic staff at my place, I’m surprised they get to go home!” However, @REasther thought the article contained “awesome advice for PhD students” and suggested that doctoral researchers could use the checklist to answer the question: “Is Your Advisor An Arsehole?”.

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