News in brief

April 16, 2009

Economic downturn

Cumbria scoops £1m grant

The University of Cumbria has emerged as the biggest grant winner from the Higher Education Funding Council for England's £25 million Economic Challenge Investment Fund, set up to help businesses survive the recession. Cumbria has been awarded £1 million, which will be match-funded by the university - the largest of 58 allocations made from the fund, which was established three months ago. Other big winners included Aston University and the University of Derby, which were awarded £998,000 and £988,000 respectively. Universities will use the money to work with local businesses until September 2010. Sir Alan Langlands, chief executive of Hefce, said bids that responded to local needs had been submitted by all types of higher education institution. He added: "New opportunities and courses will be on offer almost immediately, building up to a very full and busy programme over the summer and into next year."

Times Higher Education

Reporter honoured by jury

Hannah Fearn, reporter at Times Higher Education, has won the "jury's commendation" in a prestigious competition. She was shortlisted for the Reporting Europe prize, which is awarded by the University Association for Contemporary European Studies and Thomson Reuters, the international news agency. Her cover story on the Bologna Process of European higher education integration ("The long and the short of it", 2 October) earned her the accolade. James Kanter, International Herald Tribune and New York Times journalist, scooped the top prize for a piece on the European Union's Emissions Trading System.

Student protest

Criminal damage charges dropped

Paul Saville, the University of the West of England student arrested and charged with criminal damage for writing on a pavement in chalk, has had all charges against him dropped. Mr Saville, a second-year criminology student, wrote: "Liberty: the right to question. The right to ask: 'Are we free?'". Avon and Somerset Police charged him with causing criminal damage under the value of £5,000. On 4 April, five days before he was due to appear in court, Mr Saville wrote in his blog: "I received a letter from the Crown Prosecution Service ... they have dropped the charges because of 'lack of evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction'."

Stem-cell research

Treatments not forthcoming

Stem-cell research in the UK is not translating into effective National Health Service treatment, according to two studies carried out by the University of Nottingham. Problems with funding, regulation and collaboration between clinicians were identified as barriers that left the industry at risk of "market failure". The research, which looked at the commercialisation and adoption of stem-cell therapy, was funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and led by Paul Martin, deputy director of the Institute of Science and Society. He said: "Unless the situation changes, the industry will contract and the progress needed to develop important cell therapies will be adversely affected."

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