News in brief

May 28, 2009

Academics and policy

Science chief criticises minister

The Government's Chief Scientific Adviser, John Beddington, has criticised the use of homoeopathy within the National Health Service and rounded on the Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, over her treatment of an independent academic drugs adviser. Professor Beddington's complaints were revealed as he responded to questions from Liberal Democrat MP Evan Harris in an evidence session held by the Innovation, Universities, Science and Skills Committee. He said he had written to both the Chief Medical Officer, Sir Liam Donaldson, and Ms Smith to protest against her treatment of David Nutt, the chair of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs. Professor Nutt was telephoned by the Home Secretary in February and made to apologise for an editorial that he had written in a peer-reviewed journal that equated the dangers of taking ecstasy to those of horse-riding.

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Research and relevance

Science has 'duty to society'

The Science Minister has expressed "surprise" over what he says seems to be the view among some researchers that they should be left to pursue their work without interacting with society. Lord Drayson made the comments during a science question time session with MPs last week. He said the debate he had initiated around the reprioritisation of science funding had shown him that the science community needed to be pressed further to understand that funding came with a duty to society. "It has surprised me that certain elements of the community believe that they should just be left alone and not have to explain or talk about the importance of their science in the context of the wider role of science within the community."

Education/industry review

Recession delays publication

Business leaders and vice-chancellors have extended a review of the relationship between higher education and industry because of the economic crisis. The Higher Education Task Force, set up by the CBI, was due to publish its findings and recommendations in June. But the final report has been delayed until September to ensure that it takes account of the changes in the two sectors as a result of the recession.

Thames Valley

Slough campus to shut

Thames Valley University has confirmed that it will close its Slough campus in 2010. The site accommodates 1,000 full-time students, 650 of them pre-registration nursing students, who will move to Thames Valley's Reading campus. Part-time business courses and some post-registration nursing will stay in Slough at a different site.

Bookings scam

Bogus reservations bug college

King's College London has been caught up in a scam involving bogus hotel bookings. According to a memo from a member of staff, the college received complaints from disgruntled hoteliers across Europe about people not turning up for bookings and bounced payments. The bookings were later found not to have been made by staff or students. King's refused to say how many hoteliers had contacted it or whether it had been left out of pocket.


Keep up with the breaking news all week, including:

The claim by the Guild of Educators that university degrees are "no longer comparable" and that it can be hard to know what a first-class qualification means.


What links Inspector Morse, the MPs' expenses scandal and university open days? Find out in the latest from columnist Gloria Monday, who predicts that outrage over MPs' finances will be nothing compared to the anger when people learn that 'education, education, education' was a false promise.

Also, catch up with the latest from our other online columnists, including the latest instalment from the Bullied Blogger every Tuesday.

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