News in brief

August 20, 2009

Economic downturn

Food scientists get the chop

The Institute of Food Research (IFR) is to cut 40.5 science posts from a total of 182 because of financial constraints. The IFR, which is based in Norwich, is England's only publicly funded research organisation dedicated to food science. Prospect, the union for scientists, condemned the cuts and said the institute's finances had come under pressure because its core funding from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council had not increased in line with inflation since 2005. A restructure in 2006, carried out by David White, the IFR's former director, failed to generate extra external income, the union said.


Car-pooling popular on campus

Figures recording car usage at universities have been collected for the first time in an attempt to measure the sector's efforts to improve sustainability on campus. According to the Higher Education Funding Council for England, only 17 per cent of all car journeys made by staff and students to and from campus were single-occupancy trips. The data are included in the funding council's recent report, Performance in higher education estates.

Economic downturn

Bank of mum and dad can't help

The recession is making it increasingly difficult for parents to support their children through university, a survey has shown. According to a poll by the Association of Investment Companies (AIC), 74 per cent of parents said that the recession is affecting their ability to help pay for their children to take a degree. About 12 per cent of grandparents said they were helping towards university costs.

Information technology

Committee seeks views on future

The Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC), the higher education IT support organisation, is seeking views on its future direction. A draft strategy document open to consultation says that from 2010 to 2012, JISC will invest in short-term innovation in technology, which will help universities in the "here and now". It will continue to fund shared services, including the JANET network, but will also focus on open educational resources and support for research-data management. The draft strategy is available at, and the deadline for responses is 24 September.


Sadly, life is Neet for UK youth

The number of young people not in education, employment or training (Neet) has increased dramatically in some regions in recent years, Office for National Statistics figures obtained by the Conservative Party suggest. The Tories said the data show that there are almost one million Neets in England, up 40 per cent on the figure recorded in 2001. Nearly one in six 16-24-year-olds now falls into this category, the party said.

Gender and employment

Women trump men in job stakes

Male graduates are more likely to be unemployed six months after graduating than women, according to the Higher Education Statistics Agency. Data from Hesa's Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education Institutions 2007-08 show that 73 per cent of females who graduated in the period measured were in employment after six months, compared with 68 per cent of male graduates.

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