News in brief

December 4, 2008


Graduates ill prepared for work

UK graduates are less well prepared for the workplace than their European counterparts, but their long-term employment prospects are comparable. That is the finding of a report from The Open University's Centre for Higher Education Research and Information. The study, which analyses how well prepared European citizens are for the "knowledge economy", shows that UK graduates have studied fewer vocational subjects and undertaken less work experience than other Europeans. However, the survey reveals that five years after university, their salary and employment levels are roughly equivalent.

Science and technology

Women shun research careers

The PhD experience is less positive for women than men, a study suggests. Funded by the UK Resource Centre for Women in Science, Engineering and Technology, the study shows that female chemistry PhD students are less likely to pursue a career in scientific research than their male counterparts. While 72 per cent of female first-year PhD chemistry students say they intend to stay in research, this figure falls to 37 per cent by the third year.


Ministers to focus on laboratories

A ministerial group, led by the Minister for Science and Innovation, is to be set up to co-ordinate significant issues of biosecurity in UK research laboratories. The announcement was made in the government's response to a report from MPs, Biosecurity in UK Research Laboratories. The report, released in June, says some laboratories are being "neglected" and criticises the Government over the failure of current ministers to meet to discuss biosecurity issues and says no single minister is responsible for co-ordinating it.


UK 'world leader' in economics

Economics research in the UK is exceptional by international standards, second only to the US, according to an independent international benchmarking review published last month by the Economic and Social Research Council. It identifies microeconometrics as an area where the UK has attained "world leadership" and also highlights labour economics, public economics and economic development as areas where the UK is excelling. But it says there is room for improvement in macroeconomics. The review was chaired by Elhanan Helpman of Harvard University.


Universities join green scheme

Sixty-four higher education institutions have signed up to a scheme that will benchmark their environmental performance. Led by the Environmental Association for Universities and Colleges, Universities that Count claims to be the first independent, quality-assured corporate responsibility benchmarking initiative designed specifically for higher education institutions. Meanwhile, a survey by the Carbon Trust has found that 74 per cent of students would like their university to have the Carbon Trust Standard to prove it has taken action on climate change.

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