News in brief

June 18, 2009

Stem subjects

Project to raise numbers kicks off

A £20 million programme to raise the number of students graduating in science, technology, engineering and maths is to begin this summer. Details of the National Higher Education Stem programme, which will be run by the University of Birmingham and funded primarily by the Higher Education Funding Council for England, were announced this week. The three-year programme will focus on areas such as outreach in schools, targeting under-represented groups and improving careers information. It will also provide greater support for Stem undergraduates.

Research funding

Charity-backed work threatened

The future of charity-funded research could be under threat because universities are unaware of the Government's charity research support fund, a new report says. The study by the Breast Cancer Campaign also says that a £200 million pot that funds the indirect costs of charity research is not enough. It has called for a review. The charity surveyed 253 university researchers and found that nearly a third were being discouraged from applying for charity funding by their institutions on the grounds that charity research "only paid for the direct costs".

Personnel improvements

Academics get a boost from HR

Academics have benefited from higher salaries and improved human resources departments in universities over the past seven years, according to an independent report commissioned by the Higher Education Funding Council for England. The study, carried out by consultants Oakleigh, found that Hefce's £888 million programme to help institutions modernise their HR function had made universities recognise the role of HR and take account of this in strategic plans.

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BPP and Apollo UK merger

Education giants edge closer

Legal and accountancy education provider BPP has taken a further step towards merging with a US for-profit education giant after advising its shareholders to accept a cash deal to acquire the institution. Apollo UK - part of Apollo Group, which owns America's largest for-profit higher education institution, the University of Phoenix - has offered 620p a share for BPP, valuing the business at £303.5 million.

Business research

Graduate employability survey

Business academics are being asked to participate in research by an Australian scholar into graduate employability. Denise Jackson, a lecturer at the University of Western Australia, is carrying out the study for her PhD on the importance of industry-relevant competencies among graduates and the extent to which programmes address these.

Submissions by 15 July. Details at:

Thanksgiving service

In memory of Lord Dearing

A service of thanksgiving is to be held in memory of Ron Dearing. Lord Dearing, who carried out the eponymous 1997 review of higher education, died in February. The service is to be held at St Margaret's, Westminster Abbey, on 7 July at noon.

For tickets, send an sae to: Room 7, The Chapter Office, 20 Dean's Yard, London SW1P 3PA.


We reported last week in our Campus round-up that Sir Jimmy Savile had pledged up to £30,000 to the University of Leeds. Sir Jimmy has, in fact, pledged up to £300,000.

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