News in brief

October 16, 2008

LSE Centre for Economic Performance

'Charge elite students more'

A research paper that analyses the financial dividends of higher education says that students at elite institutions should pay more for their education than others at less prestigious institutions. The study, by researchers affiliated with the Centre for Economic Performance at the London School of Economics, says a university education significantly raises earning power, particularly among graduates of Britain's elite universities. The report concludes that a degree from a university in the top 25 per cent of institutions will lead to wages between 10 and 16 per cent higher than a degree from one in the lowest 25 per cent.

Technology Strategy Board

Huge fillip for research projects

John Denham, Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills, has launched a new £50 million project to fight infectious diseases. The money will be made available over the next five years to encourage researchers to work together, producing faster diagnostic tests to detect and identify infections in humans and animals. The project, called the Detection and Identification of Infectious Agents Innovation Platform, is funded through the Technology Strategy Board (TSB), with the Department of Health providing additional funding of up to £5 million. The TSB has also announced £72 million worth of new research grant competitions in eight areas including photonics, high-value manufacturing, intelligent transport systems, network security, and energy generation and supply. The money is being split into three phases, with the first three competitions opening in November.

Commercial design

Architect students 'have no idea'

The head of one of the world's largest firms of architects has added his voice to those who say today's graduates are not sufficiently equipped for the workplace. Peter Morrison, chief executive of RMJM, which employs more than 1,200 architects worldwide, has said that universities must do more to educate students in the commercial aspects of building design. "Designers are coming out of universities with no idea about the economics of putting a project together," he told Times Higher Education. "They're learning about how to design fantastic buildings, but they have no grounding in the process of developing a building project."

Liverpool Hope University

Education and the public good

Education is a process whereby knowledge and understanding are mediated - not simply transmitted - by academics, professor of education Jon Nixon said in his inaugural lecture at Liverpool Hope University last week. "Knowing cannot be reduced to the passive reception of supposed facts," he said in his speech on education and the public good. He continued: "Education must open up. It must reach out. It must be outward looking and magnanimous. It must become, in one of those words beloved of Edward Said ... 'worldly'." He added: "We, the educators, must become public educators: educators not just within and of the polity, but educators within and of the cosmo-polity.".

20 years ago

Students aiming for university should be prepared to prove their commitment by being prepared to find the full cost themselves, according to Lord Chilver, who is shortly to become first chairman of the Universities Funding Council. Lord Chilver said the Robbins principle, which has underpinned university policy for 25 years, is flawed. "I am searching for a much more logical statement which is that the student values education so highly that he or she is prepared to commit resources to it. That is the test."

Postgraduate students are being recalled to Oman - possibly because of fears that they may be "poached" by British universities. There are 53 postgraduates from Oman at British institutions. Last month a statement issued by the embassy required them to return to their employers in Oman after obtaining their masters degrees. Even students who had previously received government permission to take a PhD are now being asked to return to Oman and reapply. To ensure that they comply, funding is being cut off on completion of their masters courses.

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