News in brief

May 8, 2008

Wales Higher Education Funding Council

Principality lags behind on funds

State funding for Welsh universities is falling further behind England, a report from Wales's higher education funding body has found. Higher education in England received almost £70 million more public funding in the academic year 2005-06 than Wales and over £40 million more in 2004-05, according to the analysis from the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales. The study looked at the difference in funding per student, which it multiplied by the number of places to calculate the funding gap. Phil Gummett, the council's chief executive, said: "This needs to be looked at very carefully and the Assembly needs to consider what it wants from its higher education sector and whether it is getting what it needs to provide that." Jane Hutt, the Welsh Education Minister, said: "It is important to note that the level of higher education institution funding and student finance taken together in Wales is on a par with English levels, and evidence suggests that we spend a comparable amount per head of population to England. The Welsh Assembly government funding is not the only source of funding for higher education institutions. They have the ability to draw monies from other sources."

British Medical Association

Women blocked by macho culture

Medical schools must tackle a "macho" culture that is preventing female medical academics from reaching senior positions, a report from the British Medical Association has said. The Women in Academic Medicine report points out that while six in ten medical students are female, women are underrepresented at a senior level in medical academia. One in five medical schools has no female professor, and only two of the 33 heads of UK medical schools are women. The report cites new findings from a survey of 1,162 medical academics, showing that two in five (41 per cent) perceive women as disadvantaged in terms of career progression, and one in five perceives women as disadvantaged in terms of salary. In focus groups, doctors spoke of "a macho, aggressive cut-throat attitude".

Knowledge transfer

Consultancy work must be valued

Academics' consultancy work with businesses should be put on an equal footing with publishing research in journals if the Government's drive for knowledge transfer is to succeed, according to an academic from the University of the West of England. Tim Hughes of Bristol Business School studied marketing management research, which has been criticised for being "divorced from practice". In a paper, "Achieving effective academic/practitioner knowledge exchange in marketing", he argues that in attempting to improve their academic credibility marketing academics have moved too far towards a "scientific model", which has not helped their relationship with the commercial world. Interviews with 62 academics, practitioners and marketing consultants found that academics themselves consider that they lack practical experience, are out of touch and inflexible. "Academics and practitioners seem to belong to two largely separate communities and cultures," Dr Hughes said. "Journals are seldom read by those outside the academic community. We need to think much more about how we disseminate findings in ways that are accessible and meaningful to business."

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