News in brief - 28 March 2013

March 28, 2013

Widening access
Extended pathways to law

A programme to help young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to become lawyers is being extended thanks to a £1.2 million grant from a charitable foundation set up when the College of Law was sold to a private buyer. The Pathways to Law programme, set up by the Sutton Trust and the college in 2006, aims to get more 17- and 18-year-olds from working-class backgrounds into the profession by providing work experience in the legal sector and help with university applications and interviews. The scheme is currently run through seven universities with support from more than 30 law firms. The programme’s new phase will begin this autumn thanks to the grant from the Legal Education Foundation, which was set up as part of the College of Law’s sale to private firm Montagu Private Equity in April 2012. The grant will be matched by a further £1.2 million from leading law firms and universities.

Station closure
Biological outpost made extinct

The University of London has confirmed that the University Marine Biological Station Millport, a research centre on the Isle of Cumbrae in Scotland, will close at the end of the year. The decision follows an announcement by the Higher Education Funding Council for England last month that it would no longer fund the station, while the Scottish Funding Council has also declined to support the facility, a university statement released on 21 March says. Dame Jenny Abramsky, chair of the University of London’s board of trustees, said that it “does not feel that it can justify absorbing the significant annual deficit that will result from the withdrawal of our principal means of financial support”.

Open access
Peers target embargo confusion

The Lords Science and Technology Committee has called for greater clarity in Research Councils UK’s revised guidance on open access. The committee’s recent report on the subject criticised the “unacceptable” lack of clarity in RCUK’s open-access policy, which comes into force on 1 April. The committee’s chair, Lord Krebs, who is also principal of Jesus College, Oxford, has written to RCUK welcoming its publication of revised guidance earlier this month. However, he says that the guidance remains ambiguous in relation to the acceptable length of “green” embargo periods and needs to state “with no ifs, buts or caveats” that longer embargoes are acceptable where funds for “gold” open access are unavailable. He also calls on RCUK to explain how it will put the findings of its 2014 policy review into action, and to make sure that the review examines the impact of open access on academic collaboration and peer review.

Researcher development
Post-Roberts review

Research Councils UK has launched a review of the impact of funding changes for researcher development. Until 2011, research organisations received designated “Roberts funding” to provide postgraduates with career development and transferable skills training. However, the funding has been absorbed into postgraduate fee levels and indirect costs chargeable on research grants. RCUK wants to assess whether the change has had any impact on training provision. Anonymised results will be published this autumn. Comments should be sent to by the end of May.

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