News in brief – 7 May 2015

May 7, 2015

Times Higher Education Awards
Submit your entries by 24 June 2015

Entries are now being welcomed from universities across the UK for the 11th Times Higher Education Awards. Institutions, departments and individuals will compete in 18 categories that aim to highlight the achievements of the sector during the 2013-14 academic year. Award categories include Research Project of the Year, Most Innovative Teacher of the Year and the top prize of University of the Year, which in 2014 was won by Edge Hill University. Winners will be announced at a gala ceremony at the Grosvenor House Hotel in Park Lane in London on 26 November. The awards are free to enter, and all categories are open to all UK universities. The deadline for submissions is 24 June. Click here for more information.

Fixed-term contracts
Stirling job cuts illegal, court rules

A university broke the law when it let staff on fixed-term contracts go without consulting unions, the Supreme Court has ruled. The University of Stirling chose not to renew the contracts of a number of employees on fixed-term contracts when it axed about 140 jobs in 2009. The University and College Union argued that it should have been consulted on the future of the fixed-term staff, claiming that they had, in effect, been made redundant. After a lengthy legal battle concerning four test cases, the Supreme Court ruled in favour of the union in a judgment issued on 29 April. The issue will now be referred back to an employment tribunal and the university could be ordered to pay compensation. The ruling will not affect workers who are currently employed on fixed-term contracts, because the law was changed in 2013 to explicitly exclude them from collective redundancy consultations. But Sally Hunt, general secretary of the UCU, said that she was optimistic that the ruling would lead to compensation being paid to claimants from other institutions, whose cases are ongoing. The UCU will continue to campaign to have the 2013 change in the law reversed, Ms Hunt added. A Stirling spokesman said that the university was “disappointed” by the ruling.

Business schools
Sector group wins royal charter

The organisation that represents the UK’s business schools has been renamed after receiving a royal charter. The Association of Business Schools became the Chartered Association of Business Schools on 6 May, in a move described by its chair Angus Laing as “appropriate recognition” of the sector’s contribution to the economy. The association said it would use its new status to launch a programme of awards recognising the role of its members in society, building on the success of the Small Business Charter scheme launched in 2014.

Commission on Widening Access
Principals to sit on Scottish board

Two university principals will sit on Scotland’s Commission on Widening Access to higher education. Anton Muscatelli, principal of the University of Glasgow, and Petra Wend, his counterpart at Queen Margaret University, will take their seats on the 12-strong panel alongside Russell Gunson, the director of NUS Scotland, and Vonnie Sandlan, the organisation’s president-elect. The commission is tasked with finding ways to ensure that 20 per cent of Scottish university entrants come from the most disadvantaged 20 per cent of society. It is chaired by Dame Ruth Silver, a former principal of Lewisham College who chaired the UK’s Learning and Skills Improvement Service.

Follow Times Higher Education on Twitter

Our pre-general election survey, which indicated that higher education employees are most likely to vote Labour (46 per cent), followed by those who intend to support the Green Party (22 per cent), and then those casting ballots for the Conservatives (11 per cent), had our Twitter followers talking. “Ahh if only the country was run by academics,” said @AledJones_gsi, clearly impressed by the general tenor of the sector’s voting intentions. “You cannot seriously mean that,” replied a less convinced @MDRBrown. “Surprised by all the ‘Green’ voters,” commented @L4ura_gym, while @apostrophediva asked: “are those Tory votes from the VCs, do you reckon?”.

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