News in brief

July 23, 2009

Pakistani students

Immigration officials release two

Two Pakistani students arrested in April on suspicion of terrorism offences have been released by the immigration authorities. The men, who had already been freed from police custody, were detained by the UK Border Agency and were facing deportation. Sultan Sher and Janus Khan, who were in the country on student visas, were released last week. Seven students remain in detention; one has already returned to Pakistan.

Doctoral researchers

Reliance on overseas intake grows

There is strong evidence of over-reliance on international doctoral researchers in some disciplines in the UK, a report has warned. The briefing, Promoting the UK Doctorate: Opportunities and Challenges, published by Universities UK this week, says this is particularly the case for the arts and humanities and engineering and technology. Between 1994-95 and 2004-05, the percentage of doctorates awarded to UK researchers in science, technology, engineering and maths subjects fell from 65 per cent to 57 per cent. Overall, the number of UK doctoral researchers has remained fairly static, while the proportion from overseas grew to 40 per cent of the UK doctoral researcher pool in 2005-06.

British Academy

Standing by to help with advice

A policy centre to help the Government and public bodies draw on academic expertise is to be set up by the British Academy. "The major problems that face us today, nationally and internationally, will not be solved by science and technology alone," said the academy's new president, Sir Adam Roberts. He added that policymakers must understand the history, culture and languages of the societies they deal with.

For-profit provision

BPP shareholders back takeover

Shareholders of BPP, the legal and accountancy education firm and the UK's only for-profit provider with degree-awarding powers, have approved a cash offer made by Apollo UK to take over the company. Apollo UK is part of the Global Group, which owns America's largest private higher education institution, the University of Phoenix. Shares in BPP are now expected to be transferred to Apollo UK, and BPP will be removed from the London Stock Exchange next month.

Higher education reform

Set fees free, says former adviser

A controversial former government education adviser has said that universities should be free to set their own fees and that more private institutions should be established in the UK. Sir Cyril Taylor, who made the case to the Institute of Economic Affairs last week, also said that it had been a mistake to turn polytechnics into universities.

For more on this story, see related article (right)

Society for Biology

Checks for work-worthy degrees

An accreditation scheme is to be set up by the new Society for Biology to check that degrees in the discipline contain elements that are "required by employers". The proposal was unveiled in a strategy document launched last week by the Office for Life Sciences, which says the society would accredit degrees that contain "the core mathematical and practical skills" that industry needs. Dame Nancy Rothwell, president of the society, said several "top ten" universities had expressed an interest in the scheme.

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