The Russell Group
New broom at mission group
The Russell Group’s next chair will be Sir David Greenaway, vice-chancellor at the University of Nottingham. Sir David will take over at the beginning of September from the current chair, Sir David Eastwood, the University of Birmingham head, who has served three years in post at the mission group. Sir David Greenaway has provided advice to a range of government departments including a report on uninsured driving for the last Labour government and a national review of the training and professional development of doctors in the UK. He is also a former chair of the Armed Forces’ Pay Review Body.
Courses linked to poor pay suffer
The introduction of £9,000 tuition fees in England had a greater negative impact on applications to courses which are likely to lead to poorly paid careers. That is according to Filipa Sá, senior lecturer in economics at King’s College London, who analysed the effect of the 2012 funding reforms on university applications and attendance. Dr Sá’s research, presented on 1 April at the Royal Economic Society’s annual conference, was based on Ucas statistics and used Scotland – where tuition is free – as a control. Dr Sá told the conference that Ucas applications by English-domiciled students to courses predicted to lead to the lowest salaries fell by between 20 per cent and 28 per cent compared with what would otherwise have been expected in 2012-13. In contrast, applications to courses with the highest expected remuneration fell by between 10 per cent and 20 per cent.
Licence could ‘unlock’ research
The government should consider negotiating a national licence with publishers that would give access to academic research to anyone with a UK internet connection. That is the proposal floated in a Higher Education Policy Institute “occasional paper”, launched on 31 March, written by David Price, vice-provost for research at University College London, and Sarah Chaytor, head of public policy in his office. The negotiation of such a licence would greatly improve UK access to global research, “driving innovation and the knowledge economy”, says the paper. In additional to the research and funding councils, contributions to the cost could come from the knowledge transfer budget, the NHS and business. The idea of a national licence was dismissed in a single paragraph in 2012’s Finch report into open access, which instead recommended the UK steer a course towards universal journal-provided gold open access.
Georgian papers move online
The Royal Archives has launched a major project to make its complete collection of Georgian papers available online. A collaboration with King’s College London (itself founded by George IV) means that more than 350,000 pages of invaluable source material are being digitised and put online. Only about 15 per cent of this has previously been published, and even that is long out of print. Once historians are able to use the material, it is hoped that it will transform our understanding of politics and court life in Georgian England. Although the vast bulk of the material dates from the time of George III, it also includes papers covering more than a century from the reigns of George I (1714-27) to William IV (1830-37). Digitisation of the Georgian papers forms part of a wider programme to make the Royal Archives’ extraordinary and neglected resources available to scholars and the public.
Does the sector need a research excellence framework for teaching to assess the quality of pedagogy in UK universities? That was a question explored in Times Higher Education recently, and it certainly had our Twitter followers talking. “Yes…yes we do need something that acknowledges good quality teaching!” said @ASBO_Allstar. “Higher ed should rebalance teaching and research priorities; an international assessment of learning outcomes could help,” said @VanDammeEDU. “It would be high time!” added @Lilkreol. Not everyone was convinced, though. “The short answer: no,” declared @pardoguerra.
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