News in brief - 27 March 2014

March 27, 2014

THE Awards
Entries now open

Entries are now being welcomed from universities across the UK for the 10th Times Higher Education Awards. Institutions, departments and individuals will compete in 18 categories that aim to highlight the achievements of the sector. The categories include Research Project of the Year, Widening Participation or Outreach Initiative of the Year and the top prize of University of the Year, won in 2013 by the University of Huddersfield. This year sees a new category of Outstanding International Student Strategy. Winners will be announced at a gala ceremony at the Grosvenor House Hotel, Park Lane, London on November. The awards are free to enter with every category open to all UK universities. The deadline for submissions is 1 June. For more information see www.the-awards.co.uk

Research councils
Feeling the squeeze

The research councils’ income has fallen 10.2 per cent in real terms since its peak in 2009-10, a report shows. The Research Council Impact Reports 2013 (ow.ly/uPg39), published this month by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, also reveals that the headcount of academics directly supported by the research councils has fallen by just over 900 since 2009-10 to slightly more than 8,500 in 2012-13. The number of PhD starters (excluding those supported by the Medical Research Council) fell from a peak of about 5,700 in 2009-10 to about 4,500 in 2012-13. But the number of papers produced by all research councils (except the Arts and Humanities Research Council) has grown by 16 per cent since 2008-09. “Overall the quantitative evidence continues to suggest that in times of financial restraint the research councils are reallocating resources to concentrate funding among the best and brightest researchers and students to ensure sustained excellence and an efficient exchange of knowledge,” the report says.

Start-ups
Sector involvement shrinks

Graduates from UK universities formed more than 3,500 start-up companies in 2012-13. The number of companies spun out is 773 times higher than that of 2011-12, according to the latest data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency. But the results from the Higher Education and Business Community Interaction Survey show that the number of university staff spin-outs and new university-owned companies fell in 2012-13 compared with 2011-12. Staff started 22 fewer companies in 2012-13 than they did in 2011-12, and the number of new university-owned companies started fell by 32 over the same period. The number of spin-out companies not owned by universities increased from 17 in 2011-12 to 24 in 2012-13. Overall, active spin-out firms employed almost 40,000 people in 2012-13, up from almost 33,000 in 2011-12.

Scholarships
Algerians to study in UK

Over the next five years, up to 500 Algerian PhD students are to study in the UK on scholarships fully funded by the North African country’s government. The first cohort will start this coming academic year, with the British Council managing where they will be placed. Last week, a delegation of Algerian university representatives visited the UK to discuss the placements, which will be in the subjects areas of English language, English literature and applied linguistics.

Follow Times Higher Education on Twitter

Claims that the government will not have saved any money by trebling fees to £9,000 and scrapping nearly all direct grants to universities if the resource accounting and budgeting charge (the estimated portion of loans that will never be repaid by graduates) continues to rise had our Twitter followers talking. @ElspethJones described the situation as an “incredible mess”, while @otherjamesgray tweeted: “If this turns out to be the case, it would be a pretty monumental screw up.” @Chr1sR0berts added: “So not only is this ideologically driven (privatisation & financialisation of HE) it’s also economically incompetent.” However, @ProfDaveAndress said he was “not sure what problem is here”. “At £9K/student, unis are certainly getting a lot more [money] than govt wd give on its own,” he tweeted.

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