News in brief - 29 May 2014

May 29, 2014

IoE/UCL merger
All done bar the due diligence?

A merger of the Institute of Education and University College London is set to be completed by December after the institutions’ governing councils gave the go-ahead for more detailed discussions. The councils will also now carry out a due diligence process ahead of deciding on the deal at their meetings in October, according to a statement from UCL. News of the proposed merger, which would make the IoE the largest faculty of UCL, first surfaced in February. The two institutions began a strategic partnership in October 2012, which included research collaborations and working together on a number of issues. Chris Husbands, director of the IoE, said: “The proposed merger is potentially transformational in terms of the long-term security and growth of the institute and I am pleased that this has been recognised by the members of the IoE council.” Michael Arthur, president and provost of UCL, said there was “genuine excitement within both institutions as we believe this planned merger will deliver significant advances in the field of social science and education”.

Quality Assurance Agency
Chris Banks named new chair

A former managing director of Coca-Cola GB has been named the new chairman of the Quality Assurance Agency. Chris Banks will take over in November from the former local government chief Sir Rodney Brooke as chair of the QAA’s board of directors. Mr Banks, who is currently deputy chairman of the University of Birmingham’s council, has previously chaired the Learning and Skills Council and Directgov, the online portal for accessing government services. Anthony McClaran, chief executive of the QAA, said Mr Banks had “a passion for enabling more young people and adults to experience outstanding education and training” and would be an excellent guide and mentor to the QAA’s board and leadership team.

Sheffield Institute of Education
Training partnership urged

The founding director of the new Sheffield Institute of Education has called for an end to “polarised” arguments about the future delivery of teacher education. Samantha Twiselton made the comments at a conference to launch the institute at Sheffield Hallam University last week. She argued that the best model for delivering teacher education is a partnership between schools and academia. “While there is still the need for debate and reform so that we can evolve teacher training thinking at every stage and every age, the arguments have become polarised, when the best approach has to be a partnership which combines cutting-edge teaching practice in schools with the academic research rigour that only universities can provide,” she said.

Universitas 21
Eastwood to head global group

The vice-chancellor of the University of Birmingham is to become the new chair of a global group of research universities. David Eastwood was elected by members of Universitas 21, a network of institutions in Europe, the US and Canada, India, Latin America, Africa, Southeast Asia and Australia and New Zealand. Professor Eastwood, who is also currently the chair of the Russell Group, takes over from the vice-chancellor of the University of New South Wales, Fred Hilmer. He said: “As chair I will endeavour to ensure that Universitas 21 continues to provide a dynamic framework that fosters international collaboration between leading research universities.”

Follow Times Higher Education on Twitter

News that final salary pensions are likely to be axed by the Universities Superannuation Scheme as part of radical plans to fill an estimated £13 billion deficit had tongues wagging among our Twitter followers. @GeorgeCredland said the plans, outlined in draft proposals, showed an “unseemly haste to scrap final salary scheme as recession bites”, and @ajctwit observed that “students will not be happy if fee cap is lifted and the extra funding goes on bailing out the USS pension fund”. Meanwhile, @tnhh said the news was unsurprising. “Like no one saw this coming,” he tweeted.

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