News in brief - 28 August 2014

August 28, 2014

Degree verification
Third of firms fail to run checks

More than a third of employers fail to check that job applicants are not lying about their degree, according to research by the Higher Education Degree Datacheck service. Only 63 per cent of respondents to a survey said that they ask for degree certificates, and more than three-quarters of these employers do not verify these certificates with the university. A third accept copies of a degree certificate rather than requiring the original. Jane Rowley, HEDD’s director, said: “While many businesses, particularly when recruiting graduates, invest significantly in sophisticated application tracking, assessment centres, psychometric testing and so on, few verify qualifications as part of that process.”

Emergency research
£6.5 million Ebola fund

The Wellcome Trust and the Department for International Development are co-funding a £6.5 million programme of emergency Ebola research. The initiative aims to contribute to containing the Ebola epidemic in West Africa by developing new drugs and vaccines and investigating the ethics of testing experimental medicines during epidemics. The trust is encouraging rapid funding applications, which it will evaluate urgently. It has also announced a £40 million longer-term investment in supporting “a new generation of world-class African research leaders” to improve the continent’s ability to tackle its greatest health challenges, such as HIV, tuberculosis and malaria.

Teaching training courses
Call for evidence for Carter review

A call for evidence for a government review of the quality and effectiveness of initial teacher training courses has been made. The request is part of the Carter review of initial teacher training, led by Sir Andrew Carter, which was announced in May by Michael Gove, who was then education secretary. Specifically, the review panel is looking for opinions about the specific methods, models and delivery arrangements that are effective in equipping trainees to become outstanding teachers. They are also seeking evidence on how greater choice about ITT provision can be achieved. It follows last month’s announcement of the members of the review’s advisory group, including Samantha Twiselton, director of Sheffield Hallam University’s Institute for Education, and Louise Walker, director of undergraduate studies and peer mentor coordinator in the School of Mathematics at the University of Manchester.

Global challenges
£150,000 grants for UK-led teams

The second round of a scheme designed to develop “a new cadre of globally savvy academics” is open for applications. The joint UK-US government programme, known as the Global Innovation Initiative, is looking for research teams that can tackle big global challenges in sustainable energy, climate change, food security and health. The groups should include scientists from universities in the UK and the US as well as researchers from one of either Brazil, China, India or Indonesia, the British Council said on 20 August. Competitions will be held in the UK and the US, with grants of between £100,000 and £150,000 up for grabs for UK-led partnerships. The initiative is funded by the British Council, the UK’s Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the US Department of State, and was launched by former universities and science minister David Willetts in October 2013. More than 20 research partnerships secured funding totalling £3 million during the first round of the scheme.

Follow Times Higher Education on Twitter

Our article highlighting the way in which UK universities manage staff use of social media, including an example of a University of Leeds legal scholar reprimanded for sending “political” tweets, had people talking. “Where is this policing of public expression heading?” asked @public_uni, while @afrayn described the reprimand as setting an “alarming precedent”. @mek_mesfin said the story highlighted “a concerning level of attempted draconian control” by Leeds, and @chrislowthorpe said the tale “doesn’t bode well for free speech in the academy”.

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