News in brief

September 14, 2001

Parliament puts Scots under scrutiny

The civil service north of the border has become more accountable since the Scottish Parliament was set up, according to researchers at Glasgow Caledonian University.

Between 1992 and 2001, just over 100 Scottish civil servants were called as witnesses in Westminster. But almost 500 officials have been summoned by Holyrood since the Scottish Parliament was set up in 1999.

The parliamentary ombudsman also reported a bigger caseload involving scrutiny of Edinburgh officialdom. An average of 29 Scottish Office cases were handled each year between 1992 and 1999, but 53 Scottish Executive cases were handled in the first full year of devolution.

Adult learners may fall foul of postcodes

Adult learners may find that their postcode means limited class choice and higher fees, a survey by the National Organisation for Adult Learning has revealed. The survey shows that variations in price, range of classes and concessionary policies in different areas can affect people's access to adult education.

City puts fire behind it as students arrive

A push during the summer means most students going to City University this autumn will be unaffected by last May's fire.

About 100 staff whose offices were ruined have been rehoused, some in mobile offices and some in buildings that City had previously rented out to private tenants.

Computer science has a new home in the innovation building, and flat-pack music studios have been erected to replace those destroyed.

Universities on way to making Nolan grade

Universities have made good progress in meeting the targets set by the Committee on Standards in Public Life, which was established in 1994 under Lord Nolan.

Nine of the 11 recommendations relating to higher and further education institutions are being addressed, according to a review of progress.

The government has thrown out the two recommendations that have not been acted on - that the funding council board should not include vice-chancellors and that college governors should not necessarily include representatives from the training and enterprise council.

The committee's chairman, Sir Nigel Wicks, also invited tenders for a new research programme. He said: "Our first aim is to discover what the public sees as the key issues in this area. Our second aim is to explore what their attitude is to particular types of conduct."

Online Cambridge joins forces with the US

Cambridge University is developing an online learning management system with several partners in the United States.

The Open Knowledge initiative will have funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for an initial two years. The scheme is being run by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Other partners include the universities of Stanford, Harvard, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and North Carolina State along with Dartmouth College.


More strings attached to student funding bids

Institutions will have to jump through even more hoops when bidding for extra students compared with last year.

Funding chiefs are demanding that bids show that they meet one of four extra criteria: expanding high quality in learning and teaching; and widening participation by providing vocationally oriented programes; boosting provision within a region; or meeting skills shortages. Some 9,500 places went unfilled last year. The deadline for bids is October 30.

Two more opt for private finance deals

Two universities have announced private finance deals. The University of Aberdeen has exchanged contracts with Jarvis plc for four halls of residence. The University of Hertfordshire named Carillion to provide 1,600 units of student accommodation.

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