News in brief – 23 April 2015

April 23, 2015

Student votes
Tuition fee ‘liars’ targeted

The National Union of Students has launched a national advertising campaign aimed at unseating the 38 MPs, nearly all Liberal Democrats, who broke the pledge that they made before the last general election to oppose fee rises, branding them “liars”. All the Lib Dems’ 57 MPs signed up to the NUS pledge before the 2010 election to “vote against any rise in fees in the next Parliament”. However, after the Lib Dems entered a coalition with the Conservatives, 28 Lib Dem MPs voted to treble fees to £9,000 and eight were absent or abstained. Two Conservatives had also signed the pledge but failed to keep it. Toni Pearce, NUS president, said: “They pledged to scrap tuition fees – they lied. We won’t let them trade lies for power again. We represent 7 million students and are urging every single one across the country to vote against broken pledges.”

New v-c appointed
From Berks to Bucks

Sir Anthony Seldon has been named the new vice-chancellor of the University of Buckingham. The political historian and biographer will step down from his job in charge of Wellington College in August and take on his new role from 1 September. Sir Anthony was appointed the 13th head of the Berkshire boarding school in 2006. His father, Arthur Seldon, was one of the founders of the Institute of Economic Affairs, the thinktank that was influential in the development of Buckingham in the 1970s. Lady Keswick, Buckingham’s chancellor, said: “We believe he has the mixture of leadership, innovation and academic track record to make the University of Buckingham one of Britain’s leading universities.”

Carbon emissions
Who is the greenest of them all?

Universities in England are set to miss carbon emission reduction targets by half, a report has found. Of 126 institutions analysed by the Brite Green sustainability strategy consultancy, only 44 are on track to meet or exceed the 2020 reduction targets set by the Higher Education Funding Council for England. Lancaster University tops the table, having successfully reduced its emissions by 47 per cent since 2005, while, at the other end of the scale, Falmouth University has seen a 96 per cent rise. Current forecasts predict that, overall, universities will achieve only half the sector’s target of a 43 per cent reduction by 2020, which was set out in the Climate Change Act 2008. The figures pose “important questions” about the effectiveness of existing policy mechanisms to achieve the legally binding long-term objective of an 80 per cent reduction in emissions by 2050 for the UK as a whole, Brite Green said.

Animal experiments
Grants for ‘robust results’ only

Applicants for research council grants to carry out animal experiments will now have to prove that their experiments will give “robust results”. Previously researchers only had to justify the need for animals and the ethical implications of their use. The move, recommended by the National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research, is a response to concerns that experiments that do not use enough animals to give statistically significant results in essence waste the animals because results often cannot be reproduced. Applicants will be expected to explain how they calculated how many animals will be needed, how they will analyse the results and how they will minimise bias. They will also be expected to follow toughened guidance on reporting animal experiments in their papers.

Follow Times Higher Education on Twitter

Our article stating that “academic citizenship” was key to getting promoted in academia had our Twitter followers talking. Some were not convinced. “Nah. Being really good at yr job works best,” tweeted @JuneinHE, which received a “here here June!” from @bjw46. @nigel_driffield said that the “key issue, at all levels” was to “show people junior to you the way up the mountain, don’t just describe the view”. @remembermyhat suggested that although being “white, cis-male [assigned male gender at birth and identifying as male], able-bodied” were perhaps the most important factors for promotion in academia, “I do think some of these tips are useful”.

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