News in brief - 24 April 2014

April 24, 2014

Ucas consultation
New tariff points system planned

Universities will be asked to comment on a revised Ucas tariff points system. The admissions body is seeking the views of higher education institutions, exam boards and students’ unions on its plans to revamp its tariff system, which allows students and institutions to compare different academic and vocational qualifications. It follows a year-long development of a new system to reflect the growth in types of qualifications over the past decade, with 49 per cent of 16- to 18-year-olds studying full-time now taking a mix of vocational and academic subjects. Under the proposed system, points are calculated by multiplying an assessment of how long it takes to study for a qualification by a measure of its grade value. Ucas will publish full details of the new tariff this summer ahead of its introduction for the 2017 admissions cycle.

International collaboration
Young researchers’ workshops

The British Council is seeking workshop grant proposals for an initiative that encourages young researchers to collaborate internationally. The Researcher Links programme offers early career researchers in all fields from the UK and 18 partner countries the chance to discuss their work and build research collaborations. On 17 April the British Council called for researchers to propose themes for workshops to be held in the countries involved: Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Brazil, Colombia, Egypt, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Mexico, Morocco, Nigeria, Pakistan, Qatar, Russia, South Africa, Thailand, Turkey and Vietnam.

Postgraduate website
Help to make the right choice

Prospective postgraduate students are to be given extra information on choosing the right course via a new website. Provisionally called PGT Choices, the site is designed to help applicants for postgraduate taught courses consider which questions to ask when deciding what and where to study. It is being developed by the UK’s four higher education bodies and will be available from next year. The site will be overseen by the Postgraduate Information Steering Group, which brings together representatives from England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The announcement on 16 April follows the publication by the Higher Education Funding Council for England of guidance on postgraduate provision. It provides advice on the type of information that should be provided to potential postgraduate taught students, for example, details of levels of expected engagement with the course and how this is distributed across the year.

Graduate salaries
Starting pay plummets

University leavers have seen their starting salaries plummet over the past five years, new figures show. Research by the Complete University Guide says graduate starting salaries in professional posts fell 11 per cent in real terms, from £24,293 to £21,702, between 2007 and 2012. That compares with a 4 per cent fall in real terms between 2005 and 2010, the study says. Those starting jobs in medicine and dentistry – which had the highest starting salaries in 2007 – suffered some of the sharpest falls in income, down by 15 per cent and 9 per cent, respectively. Those starting a career in law received 17 per cent less than they did five years ago. Only two subjects – materials technology, and librarianship and information management – registered higher inflation-adjusted pay in 2012.

Follow Times Higher Education on Twitter

Analysis showing that the UK’s top-ranked universities tweet fewer than four times a day had our followers talking. @torstenreimer said the fact that Oxford and Cambridge were the only two with more than 100,000 followers showed the “strength of the Oxbridge brand”, while @hopkinsdavid said the infrequent tweeting suggested that universities were “still broadcasting, not interacting”, which could lead to “missed opportunities”. @MartynLawrence said the statistics, which showed that the University of Bristol had the most active account, could be misleading, as many universities have multiple Twitter handles. “Even if the main accounts don’t engage, schools/centres do,” he tweeted.

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