News in brief

July 9, 2009

Science and technology - Spin-offs see capital injection

The Government has announced a £150 million Innovation Investment Fund to provide venture capital for science and technology spin-offs. The fund is designed to address the lack of venture-capital funding hampering the sector's growth. A fund manager will be appointed and the private sector is expected to match-fund public investment. The hope is that the fund will be worth £1 billion in ten years' time.

Employment - Quarter of graduate roles are lost

Twenty-five per cent of graduate positions have disappeared over the past year, according to a study by the Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR). Its latest biannual survey, which polled 226 graduate employers, suggests there are now an average of 48 applications for each graduate post. The study found that the number of graduate-level vacancies is declining to levels last seen during the recession of the early 1990s. The average starting salary is frozen at £25,000. Carl Gilleard, chief executive of the AGR, said: "These are difficult times, but people who are well educated have a better chance of surviving the recession and will be in a better position to benefit from the upturn when it comes."

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Graduate destinations - Employment rate declines

Data on the destination of university leavers in 2007-08 have been released by the Higher Education Statistics Agency. The figures show that of full-time first-degree graduates whose destinations were known, 62 per cent were in employment compared with 64 per cent in 2006-07. The figures do not include graduates engaged in work and further study. David Willetts, the Conservative Shadow Universities Secretary, said the statistics show that "young people are the biggest victims of the recession... the employment rate of graduates was falling before the recession took hold". Sally Hunt, general secretary of the University and College Union, pointed out that the proportion of postgraduates in employment had risen slightly. She said the figures "underline the value of higher- level skills during the recession and the vital contribution of higher education". Ms Hunt added: "At a time of record demand, the Government should be looking to lift its cap on extra student numbers and invest more money in the sector."

Student poll - Higher demand for places

A poll has found that an increasing number of young people want to enter higher education, with 77 per cent saying they are "fairly likely" or "very likely" to attend university. The poll of 2,447 state school pupils aged 11-16 was carried out for education charity the Sutton Trust. The number of participants wanting to experience tertiary education was the highest since the poll was first carried out seven years ago, up from 73 per cent last year. However, the figures also highlight the disconnect between aspirations and outcomes, as only 32 per cent of young people enter higher education. The Government has frozen its planned expansion of student numbers owing to its miscalculation of higher education costs last year.

Correction

A new Centre for Neuropsychiatric Genetics and Genomics has opened at Cardiff University, not the University of Wales as we reported last week.

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