News in brief

July 31, 2008

Engagement with industry

More firms link up with academe

The UK Business Barometer, a survey of businesses run by the University of Nottingham Institute for Enterprise and Innovation, found that almost half (49 per cent) of companies questioned had been in contact with a university in the past 12 months. Over a quarter of respondents (26 per cent) said they had never had a business contact with a university, down from 47 per cent when a similar survey was conducted in 2003.

Environmental issues

Tell it like it is, says Royal Society

The Government must move to abandon the "weak and inappropriate" expression "global warming" because it does not sound like dreadful news to most people, the chief executive of the Royal Society of Chemistry has said. According to Richard Pike, ministers should use the expression "climate catastrophe" because it better reflects the dangers facing this and coming generations.

Animal-based research

More mice and fish in the lab

The number of scientific procedures carried out on living animals increased by 6 per cent in 2007 to just over 3.2 million, according to the annual animal testing statistics released by the Home Office. The use of non-human primates, however, decreased by 6 per cent to approximately 4,000 procedures. The overall rise is attributed partly to an 11 per cent increase in the breeding of genetically modified mice and fish, as this qualifies as a scientific "procedure".

2008 Olympic Games

Students dominate Team GB

University sport was celebrated as the final line-up of Team GB for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games was announced. With 57 per cent of the national team made up of students and graduates, the ones to watch during the Games include Simeon Williamson, a second-year sports science student at Middlesex University and a runner who will compete in the 100m, and swimmer Kirsty Balfour, a sport and exercise science graduate from Heriot-Watt University, who hopes to pick up a medal in the 100m and 200m breaststroke.

Engineering research

Too few technicians, survey shows

Technician posts in engineering departments are remaining vacant because universities and colleges are failing to provide suitable technical education, survey data indicate. The lines between apprentice and technician have been blurred, according to the New Engineering Foundation, leaving potential applicants under-prepared for these roles. The latest National Employment Skills Survey showed that 44,000 technician positions are vacant because of a lack of appropriate practical and technical skills. With demand for these skills expected to grow by 12 per cent annually, the gap is set to widen.

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