News in brief - 8 January 2015

January 8, 2015

Teacher training
Scotland funds 250 extra places

Funding to increase teacher training places at Scottish universities by more than 8 per cent has been announced by the Holyrood government. The investment of more than £2 million should provide 250 extra postgraduate places across eight universities in 2015-16, the fourth year of expansion. This is in contrast to the situation in England, where the number of places allocated to universities by the National College for Teaching and Leadership for next year has been reduced by nearly 4 per cent. The Westminster administration has instead decided to increase the allocation to School Direct, where places are given to schools to employ trainees. The £2 million investment was confirmed by the Holyrood government in an advisory letter to the Scottish Funding Council, which will announce formal targets for teacher training providers early this year. School Direct does not operate in Scotland, and the General Teaching Council for Scotland is yet to decide whether to accept it as a route for registration as a teacher north of the border.

Management research
Invest ‘to get ideas to market’

The Association of Business Schools has called on the government and funding councils to reverse the decline in funding for management research. Despite evidence in the results of the research excellence framework that business and management research “can deliver significant impact for the economy and society”, the ABS says such work has seen a 4.7 per cent drop in funding, while many science subjects have seen a major rise. The group argues that such research has huge potential to add value to science, technology, engineering and maths research by increasing universities’ capacity to turn world-class inventions into successful businesses. “The competitiveness of the British economy requires greater investment in business,” said Angus Laing, the association’s chair.

Postgraduate study
£50m for underrepresented groups

Disabled students and those from disadvantaged groups will benefit from £50 million of support to continue on to postgraduate level. The biggest award, for universities to help students advance to taught postgraduate level, will see five universities receive more than £1 million each, according to initial allocation calculations from the Higher Education Funding Council for England. The guidance from Hefce explains how universities will be able to use the money, announced by George Osborne, the chancellor, in the Autumn Statement to top up postgraduate funding until a new government-backed loan scheme starts in 2016-17. A letter to heads of institutions says that the funding should be focused on UK or other European Union students who have paid the higher undergraduate fees since they came into force in 2012-13 and who are from groups underrepresented at taught postgraduate level.

Research wiki
Knowledge in a nutshell

Academics whose research is relevant to schools are being invited to write summaries of their research in plain, everyday English for an online wiki. The call comes from the Mapping Educational Specialist knowHow (MESH) Guides initiative, a collaboration between universities and teachers’ associations aimed at providing summaries of educational research that teachers can use. The summaries have been accessed from more than 150 countries since January 2014. The initiative is now being extended to research in all fields potentially relevant to teachers.

Follow Times Higher Education on Twitter

News that making unconditional offers to university applicants does not significantly improve an institution’s ability to recruit students despite a fourfold increase in the number made for this academic year had our Twitter followers talking. @AngelamHarrison described our piece as an “interesting article”. “If the offer is for the course + uni the student most wants it’s a win-win and cuts pressure on them,” she said, while @VncntCnsltng suggested that it would be interesting to find out what happens when universities “stipulate [the unconditional offer] must be [a] Firm Choice”. @HughdjNicklin pulled no punches in his analysis of the data, saying that it showed “The Great Education Hoax unravelling before our eyes”.

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