News in brief - 29 August 2013

August 29, 2013

Technology strategy support
Cetis consultancy relaunched

The Centre for Educational Technology, Interoperability and Standards has been relaunched with a remit to widen its client base. Last year, the higher education technology consortium, Jisc, announced that it was to cut the £865,000 annual funding for the Jisc Innovation Support Centre (as it was then known), leading to fears that it would be forced to close. However, in its new incarnation, the University of Bolton-based organisation will advise public and private sector clients on matters of technology strategy and innovation, while also continuing to work with Jisc on certain projects. Paul Hollins, Cetis co-director, said: “Although our funding is changing, we will continue to provide commentary on developments in Moocs, analytics and other technology innovation.”

Carbon emissions
Hefce grants to cut energy costs

Forty-three universities will receive funding to reduce their energy costs and carbon emissions in the third round of allocations from the Higher Education Funding Council for England’s Revolving Green Fund. The latest round will distribute £21 million over the academic years 2013‑14 and 2014-15. The funding is provided as recoverable grants, with separate strands for small-scale energy efficiency programmes and for large projects. Large projects at institutions including London Metropolitan University, Cranfield University and the University of Birmingham will receive between £500,000 and £1 million each.

Education sector differentials
State pupils ‘less prepared’

The Russell Group is worried about the gap between private and state schools when it comes to pupils choosing science and languages subjects at GCSE. Wendy Piatt, director general of the Russell Group, speaking after the publication of GCSE results on 22 August, said that increases in the number of pupils taking modern foreign languages and science subjects were welcome. However, she added, the group of large research-intensive universities remained “concerned” that “students in independent and grammar schools are not only much more likely to take sciences and languages, but they are also more likely to choose single science GCSEs”. She continued: “This is really important because students at state schools vastly increase their odds of getting a good grade in chemistry A level if they’ve done the three single sciences at GCSE.” She added: “Young people should choose subjects that give them the best possible preparation for their chosen degree or which keep as many options as possible open for them, for example by taking facilitating subjects, such as English and maths. Too many pupils are still not getting the right advice.”

BioMed to share data

An open-access publisher is to waive all copyright over the datasets it publishes. From early September, BioMed Central, which is owned by Springer, will publish all datasets under a Creative Commons CC0 licence, which waives all rights to the material. It is a significant victory for data miners, who use software to analyse data drawn from numerous papers. They have long campaigned for CC0, also known as “no rights reserved”, to be the standard licence for datasets. In a statement, the biomedical publisher says that “the true research potential of knowledge that is captured in data will only be released if data mining and other forms of data analysis and re-use are not in any form restricted by licensing requirements”.

Follow Times Higher Education on Twitter

Our special report, comprising three articles on why there are so few female vice-chancellors at UK universities, was warmly welcomed by the Twitter community.

@being_feminist asked whether this was caused by “deep-rooted sexism or women’s refusal to ‘play the games’ to get to the top of university leadership”, while @RandalWhittaker said “diversity is key for a thriving sector”. When told that only 14 per cent of UK vice-chancellors are female, @rschifreen, who works at the University of Brighton, said: “Hmm, I wonder which 14% of ours is. Probably his calves and ankles.”

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