News in brief - 5 June 2014

June 5, 2014

Centres for Doctoral Training
Bath, Belfast join 115-strong team

Two new Centres for Doctoral Training have been established under the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council’s programme. The centres at the University of Bath and Queen’s University Belfast will be supported by funds from the universities, industry and the EPSRC. They bring the number of centres in the £962 million scheme to 115. Queen’s University Belfast collaborated with the University of Glasgow to create its £8.1 million centre, which will train doctoral students in photonics and data storage. The Department for Education and Learning in Northern Ireland also contributed to the Belfast-based CDT. Bath’s £3 million centre will be home to doctoral candidates pursuing research in decarbonising the built environment.

National Union of Students
Vote-rigging probe at Oxford

The University of Oxford’s students’ union is to remain affiliated to the National Union of Students following allegations of vote-rigging in a referendum last month that appeared to indicate a victory for those favouring disaffiliation. Oxford University Student Union announced on 21 May that it was leaving the NUS after students voted by a majority of just 128 votes to end its links with the national body. However, it has since emerged that about 1,000 votes cast in favour of the “No” to reaffiliation – which received 1,780 votes in total – may have been faked.

Research data-sharing
Call to fund ‘valued’ work

Funding councils should recognise data sharing when allocating finance, according to a new report. The Expert Advisory Group on Data Access said that new incentives are needed to encourage the biomedical research community to share data. Funding councils should “adopt a clear policy at the earliest possible stage” so that sharing high-quality datasets is “explicitly recognised and assessed as valued research outputs in the post-2014 research excellence framework”, according to the report published on 30 May. Martin Bobrow, chair of the advisory group, said: “Providing access to high-quality datasets in a form in which they can be easily used by others is time-intensive and costly for research teams.”

For-profit institutions
Labour vows to halt ‘haemorrhage’

The Labour Party has called the expansion of for-profit provision, overseen by universities and science minister David Willetts, a “failed ideological assault on higher education”. Liam Byrne, Labour’s shadow minister for universities, science and skills, also urged the Public Accounts Committee to bring forward its investigation into public-backed funding for students at private colleges, which will rise to nearly £1 billion next year. “This government’s ideological assault on higher education has failed,” said Mr Byrne. “If David Willetts won’t provide oversight of the profit-making colleges haemorrhaging £1 billion of taxpayers’ money each year, then the Labour Party will.”

Follow Times Higher Education on Twitter

Sometimes it is not the stories exposing scandal or explaining the latest policy change that set readers’ tongues wagging. So it proved last week when Tim Birkhead’s feature on how not to treat guest speakers elicited the joy of recognition and the pain of recollection in equal measure. It struck a chord with @AnneBorrowdale – “Oh yes, this rings many bells” – and @ETreharne – “so much of this rings true!”. @ThatIanGilbert said that he “would have walked” at such mistreatment. And @AlextoMiles said: “This is bloody hilarious! How did you dig this Prof up? Brilliant!” When informed that Professor Birkhead has been a Times Higher Education contributor for many years, he responded: “it made me lol a lot”.

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