News in brief

April 3, 2008



Academics are setting up a national campaign calling for the right to keep working after the age of 65. Henry Wynn, a professor of statistics at the London School of Economics, has set up UK Academics for Continuing Employment. New age-discrimination laws mean that academics may ask to stay on after the normal retirement age, but procedures are "stacked against" them, Professor Wynn said, and they must apply for their own jobs. A legal test case against mandatory retirement, brought by Heyday, the Age Concern network for people in or nearing retirement, is currently at the European Court. For more information about the campaign, contact Professor Wynn at



MPs scrutinising higher education policy have launched an inquiry into the work of the Office for Fair Access. The Innovation, Universities, Science and Skills Committee will examine how effective Offa is in promoting and safeguarding fair access to higher education for under-represented groups, and how the effects of Offa's work are measured. The inquiry follows the publication of figures in January by the watchdog - set up to safeguard fair access to higher education after the introduction of top-up fees - revealing that universities had spent £24 million less of their extra income from top-ups on bursaries and on additional outreach than predicted. The committee is inviting written submissions from interested parties before 1 May.

- See



A new round of funding to help universities develop relationships with employers and tailor courses for them has been announced. The Higher Education Funding Council for England this week allocated a total of more than £8 million to the universities of Teesside, Staffordshire and Cumbria and the Worcester College of Technology. The University of Teesside was awarded £5.1 million to fund places for 3,000 students supported by employers over three years; Staffordshire University received £3 million to develop a new business centre and courses for 3,000 students over three years; and the University of Cumbria was awarded £188,000 for 890 students by 2012. The £8 million investment, which follows the recommendations of the Leitch review of skills, brings the number of such projects funded by Hefce to 22. Thirty other projects are under discussion.



An academic boycott of Israel will be back on the agenda at the University and College Union second annual congress in May. The UCU's national executive committee voted to 11 in favour of including a motion at the conference calling on the union to use testimonies from UCU delegates to Palestine to "promote a wide discussion by colleagues of the appropriateness of continued educational links with Israeli institutions". The word "boycott" is not used. Last year a motion was passed calling for a discussion of a boycott, which provoked a media storm. The motion was criticised as anti-Semitic and as an attack on academic freedom.

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