News in Brief

June 11, 2009

Whitehall budget squeeze

Beddington sounds R&D warning

The Government's Chief Scientific Adviser has expressed concern that departmental research and development budgets will shrink as a result of the recession. John Beddington told the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee that the budgets were seen as easy targets, so he would like to see more of them ring-fenced. He highlighted cuts the Ministry of Defence was making to its science budget and said he had written to John Hutton, the former Defence Secretary, to express his concerns. He added that MoD funding for the Met Office's Hadley Centre, which undertakes climate-change research, had "just stopped". The MoD justified the move by saying it did not think the centre was an appropriate use of funding during the recession, he said.

Charity law

Mapping the minefield

Guidance setting out what universities must do to meet charity-law requirements applying to research has been released by the Charity Commission. The guidance will help universities in an area that has proved to be a minefield in recent years. To qualify for charitable status, research must be a useful subject for study; the knowledge acquired must be made available to the public; and any private or non-charitable benefits must be incidental to charitable purposes.

Vocational studies

AoC calls for skills university

A National Skills University that offers two-year bachelors degrees in vocational studies should be established, according to the principal of the Association of Colleges. David Collins said the traditional model of university education was antiquated, inaccessible to many learners and in many cases did not represent value for money. Instead, to meet the needs of the future, the focus should be on providing degree-level vocational study for those already in work, he said. The proposal would allow colleges to plug the skills gap in the economy and the qualification would be linked to employers' training needs, he added.

Scientists' campaign

'Keep libel laws out of science'

A campaign has been launched to "keep libel laws out of science". The campaign, which is supported by leading scientists including Lord Rees, president of the Royal Society, was launched last week as Simon Singh, the British science writer, announced that he would appeal against a preliminary ruling in a libel case he faces. Dr Singh is being sued by the British Chiropractic Association for an article he wrote that criticised the promotion of chiropractic treatments, which are based on spinal manipulation, for infant conditions such as asthma. The campaigners said: "Freedom to criticise and question in strong terms and without malice is the cornerstone of scientific argument and debate."

More on this story at our website

Opinion, page 24

Universities UK

Warwick's successor announced

Universities UK has appointed the head of the Equality Challenge Unit (ECU) as its new chief executive. Nicola Dandridge, who will take over from Diana Warwick on 1 September, is a lawyer by training and has been chief executive of the ECU since 2006. She has a degree in Classics from the University of Oxford, and she studied law at London Metropolitan University and the University of Glasgow.


The report suggesting that female students now outnumber and outperform men across the sector has provoked lively debate on our website. One reader wrote: "There are lots of simple tasks - domestic and in the service industries - that men can perform under the supervision of intelligent women. If the boys don't want to get educated, why not let them play football while the more intelligent sex gets on with running the world?"


Breaking news and more from our online columnists, including the penultimate instalment of the Bullied Blogger.

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