News in brief

July 24, 2008

Scottish higher education

Union calls for tuition fee review

The Scottish Government must review levels of upfront tuition fees paid by English students attending Scottish universities to halt a decline in applicants, the University and College Union Scotland has said. The union blames inequitable funding regimes for a decline in English applicants to Scottish universities, revealed in new statistics from the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service. The figures show an overall increase in applicants to Scottish universities of 2.7 per cent, but a 2 per cent drop in English applicants. Scottish students are not liable for tuition fees, but students from elsewhere in the UK must pay fees upfront. Tony Axon, UCU Scotland spokesman, said: "We fear that the decline in English students applying to study in Scotland is linked to the upfront fee and extra student support costs in Scotland." He said more had to be done to ensure that Scottish students could afford to study in the rest of the UK, citing a decline in the number of Scots applying to English institutions charging top-up fees.

Open-access publications

Not an open and shut issue

Researchers are confused about what open access is, according to a Biosciences Federation survey. The BSF questioned more than 1,300 members of 23 UK biosciences learned societies and found "a distinct lack of understanding" of open access, or free immediate access to peer-reviewed journals online. Almost half of the open access journals that respondents reported reading were not open access. "There seemed to be confusion between online journals - whether providing material free or not - and journals where all material is available free immediately on publication," the BSF's report, Learned Societies and Open Access, said. "It is unclear how many of the 74 per cent who said they supported open access really understood the issue."

Mathematics learned societies

Strength in numbers

The London Mathematical Society is set to merge with the Councils of the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications, if proposals for a new single society are approved by members. Both bodies have agreed to recommend merger to their members as a means of "preserving the best of both the current societies and providing real opportunities for increasing the scope, scale and effectiveness of all activities in the support and promotion of mathematics". In a joint statement, LMS president Brian Davies and IMA president David Abrahams said: "The mathematics community needs - and deserves - a single voice that can speak loudly and clearly for mathematicians in the UK."

Retirement

Interview subjects sought

A PhD studying academic retirement at the Research Institute for Life Course Studies at the University of Keele is seeking participants. The research aims to investigate the impact of retirement on academic lifestyle and identity. Contact Tatania Schifferle-Rowson on t.schifferle.rowson@ilcs.keele.ac.uk or 01782 584568.

Correction

Last week we said that Jennifer Barnes will take over as president of Murray Edwards College, Oxford. We of course meant Cambridge.

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