News in brief - 8 May 2014

May 8, 2014

Teacher training
Gove announces review

Michael Gove, the education secretary, has announced an independent review of the quality and effectiveness of initial teacher training courses. The review, which will report to Mr Gove by the end of the year, will survey the full range of ITT courses available with the aim of discovering what “defines effective ITT practice”, how successful the current system is and what improvements might be made. It will also look for “ways to improve choice in the system by improving the transparency of course content and method”. The review is to be chaired by Andrew Carter, headteacher of South Farnham School and ITT lead on the Teaching Schools Council.

Scottish independence
Split ‘no risk’ to research funding

The Scottish government has guaranteed that independence would not result in a cut to research funding in the country, even if universities north of the border lose access to UK-wide research councils. Currently Scottish universities win a disproportionately large share of funding from the UK research councils, which is distributed competitively. There are fears that they would be cut out of this system if the country became independent. But in a document outlining its research strategy for independence last week, the Scottish government insists that “in all circumstances” leaving the UK will not end in a cut in research funding. It argues that it would be beneficial for both an independent Scotland and the UK to keep the existing UK-wide research councils, although pro-Union ministers have questioned whether this would be negotiable.

Science investment
State funds linked to private cash

Investment in science and innovation should not be seen as a zero-sum game in which public and private investment can substitute for each other, a report argues. By international standards, the balance of spending on research and development in the UK is skewed disproportionately towards the public sector, prompting calls from some observers for the state to pull back and for industry to invest more. But the report argues that there is a strong correlation between public research funding and private sector involvement in research. The report, commissioned by the Campaign for Science and Engineering and written by academics from the University of Cambridge and Imperial College London, is the first of what is likely to be a string of documents setting out the economic case for investment in science ahead of the next spending review, which will occur soon after next spring’s general election.

Erasmus+
250,000 to experience Europe

Nearly a quarter of a million students, young people and education staff in the UK are set to receive funding from the new Erasmus+ programme, it has been claimed. According to Androulla Vassiliou, European commissioner for education, culture, multilingualism and youth, who launched the student mobility scheme in London on 28 April, the UK will receive nearly £100 million (€120 million) from Erasmus+ in 2014. That represents a 3.5 per cent funding rise compared with last year. Ms Vassiliou said about 250,000 people in the UK will benefit from the scheme between 2014 and 2020, compared with nearly 162,000 involved in the previous Erasmus schemes, which ran between 2007 and 2013.

Follow Times Higher Education on Twitter

When news broke last week that University and College Union members had voted overwhelmingly to accept a 2 per cent pay offer and to call off a marking boycott, reaction on Twitter was almost instant and, naturally, polarised. @johngkelly42 wrote that it was “great news and an impressive majority”, while the reaction of @ShellyAsquith was: “Wow. 84% of UCU members voted to accept the 2% pay offer. Still a measly rise but shows strike action can win concessions.” But there was also a vocal group unhappy at the result. “Seems like UCU members do not want #fairpayinHE in the end. Very disappointed,” wrote @CDevellennes. “2% next year conditional on accepting 1% this year. Not a good deal,” was a similarly disappointed response from @yrotitna.

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