News in brief

June 25, 2009

Doctoral graduates

Education is the destination

The education sector is the most popular destination for UK doctoral graduates, according to a report out this week. The study, published by Vitae, the career development organisation, examines destinations of doctoral graduates by subject for the first time. It shows that about half enter education, with 23 per cent working as research staff in universities and 14 per cent as lecturers. Overall, about 35 per cent gain employment in research roles across all sectors. The study was based on a survey of nearly 25,000 who finished in the period 2003-07.

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UK research base

Output measures may mislead

Policy decisions on the health of the UK research base risk being made on "false assessments", the Research Information Network has warned. An analysis of different data sources used to quantify the UK's share of world research output found that versions of the measurement varied by as much as 40 per cent and did not even agree if it is rising or falling from year to year. The report calls on producers and publishers of bibliometric data to take "great care" to ensure that they are transparent about their data sources and methodology and to ensure that they do not make misleading statements about their measurements.

The report is available at:

Technology gap

Classroom not spots

Mobile internet and social networking have found their way into the everyday lives of those on campus but have not followed students and teachers into the classroom, a think-tank said this week. A report by Demos on technology's impact on universities says many academics "find it hard to envisage the possibilities technology affords, not least because often they lack the basic skills to use the new tools". The Edgeless University argues that matching technology's possibilities with a vision for teaching and learning "is a real challenge" that requires resources, incentives and time that are often not available.

Social responsibility

Tackle the big issues, Hyslop says

It is the responsibility of scientists and researchers to meet the big challenges facing society, Fiona Hyslop, the Scottish Education Secretary, has said. Opening the "Triple Helix" conference, hosted by the University of Strathclyde, last week, Ms Hyslop said it was up to researchers to help society deal with climate change, population growth, pandemic flu, food security and terrorist activity. But she added: "It is not good enough for researchers to simply expect to be trusted. Trust is not a right: it has to be earned."

Industrial collaborations

Success requires restraint

Research conducted for the Council for Industry and Higher Education suggests that relationships with business pay off only when "universities do not attempt to appropriate the value of the relationship with excessive contractual intervention". The council says governments and funding agencies should encourage universities to develop a "public space" where big issues can be identified and addressed with the help of outside expertise.

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