News in brief - 30 October 2014

October 30, 2014

USS pensions
Tobacco investments under attack

The Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) should reconsider its investments in companies that sell tobacco, arms and fossil fuels, a new campaign says. Members of the sector’s largest pension fund, which has about £40 billion in assets under its management, have called on the USS to listen more closely to their ethical concerns about investments in firms such as British American Tobacco. Trustees should undertake a survey of members’ views on investments and commit to incorporating these into investment policy, subject to the absence of significant financial risk, the “Listen to USS!” campaign says. It will present a petition on the issue to the USS board of trustees at the annual meeting for institutions in the scheme in London on 4 December.

Cancer research
£230m to help speed up diagnosis

Research teams at 15 universities are to benefit from £230 million in funding from a partnership led by the Medical Research Council aimed at using a range of state-of-the-art imaging technologies to speed up the diagnosis and treatment of diseases such as cancer. The Clinical Research Infrastructure Initiative brings together funding from the UK government, devolved administrations, Arthritis Research UK, the British Heart Foundation, the Wellcome Trust and Cancer Research UK. The MRC last week revealed which projects would benefit from the funding. They include teams at Cardiff University and the Institute of Cancer Research. Sir John Savill, chief executive of the MRC, said: “The government entrusted £150 million of funding to this initiative. With generous contributions from Arthritis Research UK, the British Heart Foundation and other partners, we have been able to invest over £230 million in a collaboration that will catalyse innovation and advance our knowledge in completely new areas of research.”

Innovate UK
KTP Week kicks off

Collaboration between UK universities and businesses will be celebrated next week. The first National KTP Week runs from 3 to 7 November, aimed at raising awareness of Knowledge Transfer Partnerships. These help companies to improve their competitiveness and productivity by drawing on the expertise of higher education institutions and colleges. In excess of 100 universities and businesses will be taking part in more than 200 events focusing on KTPs, which place graduates with businesses for projects that are supported by academics and university facilities. KTPs are run by Innovate UK, the government-backed technology strategy board. More than 8,500 partnerships have been set up over the past decade, involving more than 700 businesses.

Charity to support TV hopefuls

The Royal Television Society, an educational charity, has announced the 20 individuals who will receive bursaries – worth £1,000 a year for three years – as part of its inaugural undergraduate bursary scheme. It is designed to widen participation in media and related industries and assist talented people who need financial support. Recipients were selected by a panel of industry professionals after an open call to students applying for eligible UK courses. In addition to money to help with their studies, each will receive mentoring, free membership of The Hospital Club – a private members’ club for those in the creative industries – and the RTS while studying and one year’s free membership of the RTS after they graduate.

Follow Times Higher Education on Twitter

News that the viability of more university teacher training departments could be under threat after the number of places allocated to higher education providers was cut again had our Twitter followers up in arms. “The anti-intellectual neoliberal agenda moves on apace,” said @DrFautley. “Soon be none of these pesky Uni’s left in [initial teacher training].” @marie_morley claimed it was “part of the Govt’s strategy to deprofessionalise teaching”, and asked “why isn’t anyone asking where the drive is coming from?”, while @egwilson said that the decision of Anglia Ruskin to stop its ITT programme was part of an “anti intellectual trend”. @millionplusCEO said she had “warned of risks of reducing teacher training places in unis. Now another uni pulls out.”

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