News in brief - 30 May 2013

May 30, 2013

Exam howlers
Tasty morsels from the buffet zone

With the marking season well and truly under way, Times Higher Education is making its annual call for entries to its “exam howlers” competition, in which lecturers are invited to share their favourite mistakes and misunderstandings. Last year’s winning entry was submitted by Kevin Ruane, professor of modern history at Canterbury Christ Church University, who wanted to share these words of wisdom from a second-year undergraduate: “In 1945, Stalin began to build a buffet zone in Eastern Europe.” Runner- up was David Ganz, emeritus professor in palaeography at King’s College London, who was amused by a student’s claim that “most books were written on valium” in the Middle Ages, rather than vellum. Please send examples of hilarious typos, unfortunate spoonerisms and daft misunderstandings to John Elmes by 28 June. A magnum of champagne will be awarded for the winning entry.

International students
Houses debate immigration status

The House of Commons and the House of Lords are set to debate the issue of international students on the same day. On 6 June, MPs will discuss the fact that five parliamentary select committees have recommended the removal of international students from the government’s net migration figures. On the same day, a debate in the Upper House led by Lord Hannay of Chiswick will address the same issue. Vivienne Stern, the head of political affairs at Universities UK, said the coincidence “underlines the breadth and scale of support that international students have received in Parliament”. The latest immigration figures, released on 23 May, show that a 23 per cent drop in the number of students coming to the UK in the year to September 2012 helped net migration overall to fall to 153,000 people.

Government review
V-cs on regional growth panel

Five vice-chancellors have been appointed expert advisers in a government- commissioned review of how universities can support regional growth. David Greenaway of the University of Nottingham, Graham Henderson of Teesside University, Dame Julia King of Aston University, Wendy Purcell of Plymouth University and Dame Nancy Rothwell of the University of Manchester will support the chief executive of GlaxoSmithKline, Sir Andrew Witty, in carrying out the review. Also advising are Sir John Bell, Regius professor of medicine at the University of Oxford, and Colin Skellett, chair of the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership and executive chair of Wessex Water. A consultation contributing to the process closes on 31 May.

Foreign-language study
Cash boost to pique interest

Universities are to receive £3.1 million to encourage more people to study modern foreign languages at degree level. Provided by the Higher Education Funding Council for England, the cash will be used to fund student ambassador visits to local schools and targeted classes for schoolchildren with a talent for languages, and to establish a language-related “spelling bee” competition. The money will also support efforts to increase the number of students going abroad for courses or work placements. More than 60 universities will be involved in the programme of activities to promote languages over the next three years, which will be led by the University of Southampton.

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