News in brief - 18/25 December 2014

December 18, 2014

Times Higher Education’s John Morgan, Chris Parr and Holly Else

Journalism awards
THE staff win prizes

Times Higher Education reporters have won plaudits for their agenda-setting journalism at a national awards ceremony. The CIPR Education Journalism Awards 2014, held in central London on 10 December, recognised the best in UK education journalism across print, web and broadcast media. Deputy news editor John Morgan won the Outstanding Higher Education Journalism category for his feature focusing on the University of Central Lancashire’s controversial Cyprus campus, and social media reporter Chris Parr – the driving force behind THE’s @timeshighered Twitter account – took home the award for Outstanding Online Education Commentary. Writer Holly Else was runner-up in the Most Promising Newcomer to Education Journalism category with a piece on the varying experiences of PhD students. John Gill, THE editor, said: “Higher education is a hugely rewarding sector to cover, but it’s always very welcome to have THE’s journalistic standards, as well as the tenacity and flair of our writers, recognised by others.”

Ownership debate
Nerc may make centres charities

A research council is laying the groundwork that would enable it to give two of its research centres charitable status. The Natural Environment Research Council is “taking the next steps” to be able to move the National Oceanography Centre and the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology out of public ownership if it wanted to, its chief executive said. Duncan Wingham said that no final decision has been made about whether the centres will become charities and the process is expected to take one to two years. The fate of a third centre, the British Geological Survey, is still under discussion. The research council has been considering how best to run the centres for some time because of the squeeze on public funding.

Medical applicants
Bulk of pupils from a few schools

Half of schools in Britain did not provide a single applicant to medicine over a three-year period, a study shows. About 80 per cent of applications by aspiring doctors came from only 20 per cent of schools, and about half applied from private or grammar schools, according to research published by the Medical Schools Council on 10 December. The report by the Selecting for Excellence project, which was set up by the council last year to examine access issues at medical schools, said some 31 per cent of first-year trainees came from private schools, despite just 7 per cent of pupils overall being educated in this sector. In the report, titled Selecting for Excellence: Final Report, medical schools say they must do more to broaden their recruitment beyond well-connected children attending good schools.

Graduate pay premium narrows

University graduates earn an average of £9,000 more a year than non-graduates but the gap is narrowing, official statistics show. The median graduate salary in England stood at £31,000 during the third quarter of 2014, down £1,000 year on year, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills says. The average non-graduate salary was unchanged at £22,000, according to the department’s first paper on graduate labour market statistics. Workers with postgraduate degrees attracted an additional premium, with median gross earnings of £40,000. This was up £1,500 on the same time last year.

Follow Times Higher Education on Twitter

Our story last week on the University of Warwick’s decision to select academics for redundancy on the basis of their research income led to fevered debate on Twitter. “…this is marketisation. It’s mad,” was the simple response of @cj_pope, while @Meraud_Hand drew attention to the article by describing such performance management as “short-termism with a side order of perverse incentives”. Meanwhile, @AnsonMackay drew on the Warwick University and College Union president Dennis Leech’s suggestion that the move put staff in the same position as City traders. “But without City trader rewards.”

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