News in brief - 31 October 2013

October 31, 2013

Wellcome Trust
Cash to unlock library’s riches

The Wellcome Trust has launched a £100,000 scheme to fund open access publication of research drawing on holdings in its library. Its extensive collections on the history of health and medicine range from ancient Egyptian prescriptions to digital biomedical images. The scheme is open to anyone with no access to open access funds, and should be especially relevant for independent researchers. Funding of at least £100,000 will be given out during a three-year pilot. The trust already pays open access fees for researchers it funds, for monographs, book chapters and papers. Simon Chaplin, head of the Wellcome Library, said: “We are keen to see library users take full advantage of the greater visibility and reach offered by open access publication.”

Research impact
New ESRC block grant unveiled

The Economic and Social Research Council is launching a new funding stream for knowledge exchange projects. The Impact Acceleration Accounts scheme will give institutions a block grant – based on the size of recent ESRC grant income – to fund activities such as building links with research users and proof of concept studies. The accounts were pioneered by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, and piloted by the ESRC with the universities of Oxford, Cambridge and Manchester. An ESRC spokeswoman said demand for its Knowledge Exchange Opportunities Scheme, which closes at the end of March, had fallen in recent years despite a relaxing of rules. Impact Acceleration Accounts would allow a more flexible approach, she said – although the standard Pathways to Impact route would remain the primary mechanism for funding impact.

Graduate medical training
EU plan to halt fast-track thwarted

The European Parliament will not redefine the minimum length of basic medical training beyond five years, thereby ensuring the future of the UK’s fast-track graduate medical programmes. Proposals had been brought from several countries to raise the minimum threshold for medical training to six years, but were voted against by MEPs. The British Medical Association opposed the plan, which would have meant that many UK fast-track graduate medical programmes, typically four-year courses followed by a fifth year of foundation training, would cease to be recognised in other EU states.

University admissions
Early applications up on last year

Applications for early deadline university courses have generally increased this year compared with last year’s figures, with only applications from Northern Ireland registering a drop. Courses with a 15 October deadline include medicine, dentistry, veterinary and all applications for undergraduate places at the universities of Oxford and Cambridge. This year’s numbers, released on 24 October by Ucas, show that courses with the 15 October deadline had 58,200 applicants for 2014 entry, an overall 2 per cent increase from last year. Applications from England remained almost parallel with last year’s number at the same point, applications from Scotland rose 2 per cent against last year, and there was a 5 per cent rise in applications from Wales. Northern Irish applications declined by 10 per cent.

Follow Times Higher Education on Twitter

An article by barrister Daniel Sokol on university appeals panels’ fitness for purpose had readers talking this week. “Is…more training needed for appeals panels?” asked @smitajamdar, while @pam_psych insisted that her institution (University of Leeds) supported students to “get them a fair outcome”. “Some university appeal hearings fall well short of what could be described as fair,” said Dennis Farrington, visiting fellow at the Oxford Centre for Higher Education Policy Studies, in a comment on our website. “As an ex-university administrator…I handled quite a few cases, and advised…pro bono in some really awful cases involving universities in the top echelons of the league tables.” “Ian Brightarse” pointed out that students have “recourse to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator and to the Courts if they aren’t satisfied with their university’s processes”, and wondered how many succeed in such endeavours.

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