News in brief - 2 May 2013

May 2, 2013

UK Electronic Skills Foundation
Sharp jolt for careers initiative

Three Russell Group universities have joined the UK Electronic Skills Foundation, which campaigns to reverse a decline in the number of British electronic engineering degree students and works to encourage more people to consider a career in the electronics industry. The addition of the universities of Glasgow, Nottingham and Newcastle takes the number of UKESF partner universities to 11. The foundation offers professional development courses designed to advance students’ non-academic business skills, with affiliated companies offering work placements. The three institutions join the universities of Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Manchester, Southampton, Surrey and York, as well as Imperial College London.

Overseas study
Boys’ feet just aren’t as itchy

Around a third of school-leavers in the UK would be interested in studying abroad, according to a survey, although girls appeared to be keener than boys. Website polled 1,140 school-leavers aged 16 or over and found that 41 per cent of females wished to leave the UK to study, compared with per cent of males. The most popular destinations were the US, France and Australia. Overall, 42 per cent of respondents said they would not be interested, citing language barriers, homesickness and “hassle” as factors. When asked if they would take “serious steps” to study abroad, only 11 per cent answered “yes”.

Erasmus programme
Budget accord may revive revision

The possible end to the European Union’s budget crisis could conclude uncertainty over the fate of a revised Erasmus programme scheduled to be introduced in 2014. On 22 April, Janusz Lewandowski, EU commissioner for Financial Programming and the Budget, said that negotiation on the next budget could now begin after a positive response from member states. “We are running out of time to ensure that hundreds of thousands of businesses, towns, NGOs [non-governmental organisations], scientists and students benefit from EU funds from January 2014 on,” he added. The budget crisis began shortly after the European Commission presented its 2014-20 budget proposal in June 2011, which several member states saw as too generous. The “Erasmus for All” programme - meant to replace the education-focused programme with one that brings education, training, youth and sport under one umbrella - was affected by the uncertainty.

Research degrees
Bengali, Caribbean cohorts tiny

Fewer than 10 graduates each from the UK’s black Caribbean and Bangladeshi communities progress to a research degree each academic year, a study has found, calling it an “exceptionally low” rate. The trend is highlighted in a report commissioned by the Higher Education Academy, written by Paul Wakeling and Gillian Hampden-Thompson of the University of York’s department of education. “The very small numbers of graduates progressing to higher degrees from certain groups…means that very few such individuals are part of the supply ‘pipeline’ for those careers requiring postgraduate qualifications for entry,” says the report, Transition to Higher Degrees across the UK: An Analysis of National, International and Individual Differences. “Sectors employing doctoral graduates - including, of course, higher education itself - thus face a regrettable lack of diversity in their workforce,” it adds.

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