News in brief - 25 September 2014

September 25, 2014

Six institutions score top marks

Six universities have scored full marks in an assessment of how gay friendly the UK’s higher education institutions are. Just two won the same accolade in the 2014 version of the Gay By Degree guide compiled by Stonewall, the gay rights charity. The six institutions with top marks in 2015 are Cardiff University, Liverpool John Moores University, Sheffield Hallam University, York St John University, University of Essex and University of Glasgow. Cardiff and Liverpool John Moores scored top marks in the previous year’s guide. The survey looks at whether institutions have policies to tackle homophobic bullying, the existence of societies that cater to lesbian, gay and bisexual staff and students, and how institutions support staff.

Student protest
NUS backs ‘free education’ rally

The National Union of Students has voted to hold a national demonstration in support of “free education”. At a meeting of the NUS’ national executive committee on 16 September, union representatives voted to back a rally in central London on 19 November, which has been organised by a coalition of student groups including the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts, the Student Assembly Against Austerity and the Young Greens. The demonstration, which will take place under the banner of “Free Education: No fees. No cuts. No debt”, is designed to raise awareness about student debt ahead of the general election. The demonstration is the first national rally backed by the NUS since it held a march through central London in November 2012.

Degree course data
UK and Ireland excel

Universities in the UK and Ireland are the best in the world about informing international students about degree course information, a new study claims. Based on a “mystery shopper” analysis of 445 leading world universities, StudyPortals found recruitment processes in the UK and Ireland were the most easy to use for applicants. For its report, titled Through Student Eyes, the Netherlands-based degree course listing service employed a team of nine students to test the websites and customer services of various universities listed in the top 500 of various world university league tables. Asked to identify key information about two randomly selected English language master’s courses, the student researchers found that the websites of UK and Irish universities were easy to use and contained the right information for potential applicants.

Best University Workplace Survey
Your career appraisal is due

What’s the best thing about working at your university? In what areas do you need more support? These are among the questions we are asking in the second annual Times Higher Education Best University Workplace Survey, which is now open. Last year more than 4,500 university employees in academic, professional and support roles responded to our independent audit. To have your say, visit

European Research Area
Nations urged to take next step

Country-level reforms are the next stage needed in the development of a Europe-wide research area, according to a report. The European Commission report on the European Research Area says that “good progress” has been made in setting the foundations to create an environment where researchers and scientific knowledge can flow freely between countries. But now member states need to do their part and better align their national research efforts with those of the European Union, for example, the report says.

Follow Times Higher Education on Twitter

The result of the Scottish independence referendum, which saw the country vote against becoming an independent country, had our Twitter followers talking. @ViewforthHE said the result was “certainly the best result for the financial position of HE in Scotland”, while @Herron1664 said he was “delighted” that the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council panel could “now reject my latest grant application on the basis of science not geography!” @TimWorth89, however, said that a “yes” vote “would have increased interest in my subject (scotophobia and british identity)” meaning there was “no career boost for me!”

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