Quality Assurance Agency
No-confidence results assessed
The Higher Education Funding Council for England (Hefce) is consulting on a policy for dealing with universities that have received a "no confidence" judgment from the Quality Assurance Agency but have failed to address their problems. Under the proposed "Unsatisfactory Quality Policy", Hefce could decide to defer payments to the affected university, make a "one-off" withdrawal of funding or adjust the recurrent baseline grant. "If the reason for the no-confidence judgment could be attributed to a particular subject, then Hefce might judge it appropriate to withdraw funding for that subject," the Council says in a consultation document. "Affected students could be moved to a different provider." Affected institutions would not be allowed to bid for Hefce special-funding programmes or for additional student numbers.
Science studying has fallen
The proportion of 17-year-olds taking maths, physics and chemistry at A level has shrunk over the past 12 years, despite major educational reforms to try to increase the number of students taking the subjects, a report by the Royal Society has warned. Michael Reiss, director of education, said: "Recently there have been encouraging signs that more young people are choosing to study the sciences and mathematics after the age of 16, but the longer-term trend exposes the failure of the many changes to make enough of a difference." The report also says the new science GCSEs, which were sat by students this year, were introduced before any genuine evaluation of the pilot was undertaken, and that the new science diploma is being developed in a timeframe that leaves little time for it to be adequately tested.
Secrets of success explored
A research team at the University of Northampton has won funding to examine collaborative agreements between English and overseas universities, focusing on China and New Zealand. The three-year project aims to provide resources to enable universities to develop more effective international collaborations. It is being funded with £200,000 from the Higher Education Academy and is being led by David Burnapp of Northampton Business School.
Imprint to offer free downloads
A major publisher is to launch an academic imprint with all its titles to be made available free online. The new arm of Bloomsbury Publishing will initially publish humanities and social sciences titles, with about 50 planned for the end of 2009. In a new publishing model, Bloomsbury Academic will offer free downloads for non-commercial purposes immediately on publication.