News in brief

March 20, 2008



Universities hope to gain greater insight into what makes applicants accept or decline their offer of a place. A forthcoming survey by the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service will ask students about the main factors that influence their eventual choice. Applicants accepting an offer of a place via Ucas Track - the tool they use to track their applications - will be presented with a list of factors and asked to indicate those with a bearing on their decision. The factors include course content, academic reputation, social life, entry requirements, availability of scholarships or bursaries, employment prospects, cost of living, availability of local employment, and the distance of the institution from their homes. Students will also be asked to rank the institutions they applied for in their original order of preference, and the main reasons they declined any, or all, of the offers they received. A spokesman for Ucas said: "At its simplest, institutions will be able to understand what is important to applicants, what isn't, and how they compare to other institutions." This year's survey is a pilot, and all students will be polled from the next academic year.



The House of Commons Innovation, Universities and Skills Select Committee last week ceased to exist, becoming instead the Innovation, Universities, Science and Skills Select Committee. IUSS committee chairman Phil Willis said: "Having science in the title will signify that the committee recognises the vital role science plays, and its intention to continue the depth of cross-departmental scrutiny that went on in the past."



Research Councils UK has confirmed that it will review the effects of its policy to fund the full economic costs of university research, as reported by Times Higher Education in January. The review will be undertaken in co-operation with Universities UK and the funding councils. It is expected to address, among other things, how the additional funding provided as part of research grants to cover full economic costs, such as a university's general infrastructure, is being used by universities and whether the policy objective of making the science base more sustainable is being delivered. The review will be chaired by Alan Alexander, commissioner on the Accounts Commission for Scotland, and it is expected to report to RCUK by the end of 2008.


The source for the annual Times Higher Education-Grant Thornton survey of vice-chancellors' pay ("How much are you worth?", 13 March) was Grant Thornton, and not the Higher Education Statistics Agency.

In an obituary of Jim Walsh (Times Higher Education, 13 March), we said that the Association of University Administrators represented 850 members in 85 institutions. This was the relevant figure shortly after the AUA was founded in the 1960s. However, the association now has nearly 4,000 members in 180 institutions.

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