News in brief

August 13, 2009

Student finances

Scots must borrow to get by

Two thirds of Scottish students owe money to their friends and family, and more than half have taken on expensive commercial debt to fund their studies, according to a poll. The survey, by the National Union of Students in Scotland, also found that more than half of those questioned worked while studying, and 70 per cent of them worked more than the recommended ten hours a week during term time.

Science and technology

Research in the balance

The balance of funding between "targeted" and "curiosity-driven" research is to be investigated by the House of Lords. The inquiry by the Science and Technology Committee will be held "in the context of likely overall cuts in public spending". It will look at how decisions are made to fund research to meet societal needs, and how it is commissioned by government departments. The committee is seeking written evidence on six questions over the summer, with oral-evidence sessions due to begin when Parliament resumes in October.

See www.parliament.uk/hlscience

Economic downturn

V-c group reaches out to industry

An awareness campaign has been launched by Universities UK to highlight ways in which universities can help employers during the recession. The vice-chancellors' organisation has targeted 50,000 businesses to draw their attention to a new website that gives employers direct access to universities' business expertise. The site also offers advice on how institutions can help firms to raise capital, develop patents and improve their leadership.

See http://tinyurl.com/cdl6ct

Select committees

Questions of proof

MPs are seeking clarification from the Government on how it uses evidence to form policies. The House of Commons Innovation, Universities, Science and Skills Committee has listed ten topics where it wants "evidence checks" to establish the nature of government policies and the evidence underpinning them. The topics include: "the teaching of 'pseudoscience' at universities"; "measuring the benefits of publicly funded research"; and "the regulation of synthetic biology". The IUSS Committee, which will be replaced by the Science and Technology Committee in October, has also asked the public for suggestions on other areas of government policy that require an "evidence check".

See www.parliament.uk/ius

Information technology

More work, but no more money

Universities are expecting their web managers to do more with less, according to a survey. A study by Eduserv, a not-for-profit information technology services organisation that aims to promote the use of IT in learning and research, says that heavier burdens are being placed on web teams without extra funding to meet them. It states that only half of universities have a web strategy and only 8 per cent of those surveyed said senior management understood the issues facing them. The report says the key problems for web managers are issues of quality and quantity of content - "an overabundance of the latter and a dire need to control and monitor the former", it adds.

See www.eduserv.org.uk

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