News in brief - 6 June 2013

June 6, 2013

Times Higher Education Awards 2013
Still time to shine

The closing date for entries to this year’s Times Higher Education Awards has been extended to midnight Sunday 16 June. Institutions, departments and individuals will compete in 18 categories that aim to spotlight the sector’s achievements. The categories range from Research Project of the Year and Widening Participation or Outreach Initiative of the Year, to Most Innovative Teacher of the Year and University of the Year. A full list of categories can be found at the Times Higher Education Awards website, where submissions should be made. The awards are free to enter, and every category is open to all UK universities. Winners will be announced at a gala ceremony at the Grosvenor House Hotel in Park Lane, London, on 28 November.

Undergraduate admissions
Ucas records growth against 2012

An extra 16,000 students have applied to university so far compared with the same time last year, figures show. Statistics released by Ucas on 31 May show that 613,512 people had applied for undergraduate study by 20 May, an increase of 2.3 per cent on last year’s total. But applicant numbers were about 33,500 below the level for 2011 entry – the final year before annual tuition fees almost trebled to £9,000 at most English universities. Applicant numbers were also down on 2010 levels, by about 24,250, but substantially above the 559,465 applicants seen at the same point in 2009. Nicola Dandridge, chief executive of Universities UK, welcomed the increase in the number of applicants but expressed concern that subsequent data might show falls in applications from mature and part-time students.

Science and technology
Lords set to eye up infrastructure

The House of Lords Science and Technology Committee has launched an inquiry into the UK’s science infrastructure. It plans to look at large to medium-sized equipment and the “e-infrastructure” used to support research, and to identify whether a suitable long-term plan is in place for the investment, use, operational costs and upgrades of scientific infrastructure. It will also consider how decisions on investment made since the 2010 spending review were reached and the impact of removing capital spending from the ring-fenced science budget. Written evidence may be submitted to the committee by 21 June.

Research in China
Red stars rise on Nature’s horizon

Authors based in China contributed 8.5 per cent of all research papers published in 18 Nature-branded journals in 2012, an increase of 35 per cent on 2011. The Nature Publishing Index 2012, released on 29 May, shows that authors from institutions in China contributed 303 papers in 2012, up from 225 in 2011 and 152 in 2010. In 2000, just six articles in the publisher’s journals had co-authors from Chinese institutions. The index also indicated that China, traditionally strong in physical sciences, is making gains in high-quality life sciences research.

THE reader panel
Your expert opinions sought

Times Higher Education invites academic and administrative staff at UK universities to join its reader panel. If you are prepared to receive occasional emails from THE journalists asking for your comments on developments in the sector, email THE editorial assistant John Elmes.

Online now

Last week’s story about a call by Kingston University vice-chancellor Julius Weinberg to create more open-plan offices for academics spurred debate. Michael Marten said open-plan offices were “not the answer” as “the pastoral needs of students and the confidential nature of some of the issues that are raised require spaces that can be private”. But Zane Grey disputed how many private meetings with students really took place. “I was a fairly engaged English Literature student and can only remember a handful of talks with lecturers outside class time, most happening immediately after a tutorial,” he said.

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