News in brief

July 30, 2009

Academic publishing

Making hay while storms gather

Sales of academic books are rising, publishers' figures show. The Bookseller magazine reported that during the first half of the year, the value of Oxford University Press' sales rose 13.5 per cent on last year to £14.6 million. Palgrave Macmillan's grew 12.8 per cent to £2.3 million, Continuum's rose 20.1 per cent to £1 million and Sage's leapt 24.1 per cent to £1.8 million. However, Clive Parry, sales and marketing director at Sage, said there could be trouble on the horizon. "University library budgets are under enormous pressure, and ... this will have some impact in 2010, if not sooner," he said.

Bursaries and fees

New rule 'short-changes' poor

Ministers have been accused of short-changing the poorest students by instituting new rules on university bursaries. Earlier this month, the Government announced that it would raise fees by 2.04 per cent next year while freezing maintenance support at this year's levels. This meant that some universities would have had to increase their bursaries expenditure by 20 per cent to make up the difference between fees and the maintenance grant for the poorest students. However, on 23 July the Office for Fair Access announced that henceforth the minimum bursary will be set at 10 per cent of the tuition-fee ceiling, creating a shortfall between what students have to pay and the financial support available.

See: http://tinyurl.com/mf3fom

Competition

The lighter side of exam marking

The deadline for entries to the annual Times Higher Education "exam howlers" competition has been extended. Readers now have until 6 August to submit their most off-the-wall examples of student slip-ups. The winner will receive a magnum of champagne.

Send entries to rebecca.attwood@tsleducation.com

Europe

Student numbers up 25 per cent

Europe's student population is rising, a European Commission report says. The number of students in the European Union rose by 25 per cent between 1998 and 2006, and now stands at 18.7 million. Graduates in social sciences, business and law account for 35 per cent of EU graduates, and women outnumber men by 1.23 to 1. Women account for the majority studying disciplines related to education, health, welfare and the arts and humanities. Men predominate in engineering, manufacturing, science and mathematics.

Economic downturn

Archaeology unit has no future

The largest university-based commercial archaeology unit in northwest England will close on 31 July. The unit at the University of Manchester provides archaeological services for property developers, including field evaluations and excavations. The decision, taken by Manchester's governors at an informal board meeting earlier this year, was made for financial reasons. A Manchester spokeswoman said: "This was a difficult decision that was taken only after the university had explored all options. Staff have been informed, and there will be no compulsory redundancies."

Correction

Last week we referred incorrectly to Marie Curie Cancer Cure ("What sets you apart?"). The charity, which cares for terminally ill cancer patients in their homes at the end of their lives, is called Marie Curie Cancer Care. Apologies for the error.

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