News in brief

August 27, 2009

Misconduct charges

Exam-paper professor suspended

An investigation at the University of Manchester into a professor accused of failing to rigorously mark exam papers has found that there is a case to answer. Annmarie Surprenant, a professor of neuroscience, has been suspended and will be asked to appear before an internal disciplinary panel to answer misconduct charges. Speaking to Times Higher Education earlier this month, she denied the allegations that she failed to mark the papers properly and forged a second marker's signature.

Disability support

Funding council invitation

People with disabilities and those in higher education who support them are being invited to get involved in policymaking by the Higher Education Funding Council for England. The funding council has asked for expressions of interest by 25 September, with a view to forming a group it can consult when implementing policies affecting people with disabilities.

See: http://tinyurl.com/m2tyhc

International Partnership Scheme

British Academy turns electronic

The British Academy has adopted a new electronic approach to managing grant applications to replace its paper-based system. Applicants will now have access to the progress of their application, and will be able to share applications with others. The first schemes to benefit will be the International Partnership Scheme which aims to help UK humanities and social sciences scholars develop links with universities in Africa, South Asia and the Middle East, and the UK-Latin America and Caribbean Link Programme.

Research initiative

British Library hosts postgrads

The 1994 Group of research-intensive universities is encouraging new postgraduates to attend a series of specialist training days hosted by the British Library. The new researchers, whose travel expenses will be paid by the mission group, will learn how to access material specific to their subject, and have the chance to network with fellow postgraduates. "If the UK is to continue to be a world leader in research, we have to see a greater emphasis on training and developing new researchers," said Paul Marshall, executive director of the 1994 Group.

Research Councils UK

New best-practice policy

The final draft of a new policy document setting out guidance on best practice for researchers has been published by Research Councils UK (RCUK).The Policy and Code of Conduct document on the governance of good research conduct also provides guidelines on how to manage research to ensure the highest standards, and on the reporting of unacceptable research conduct. Earlier this year, there was criticism from within the sector that RCUK had watered down its plans, abandoning the idea of a new national body for research integrity amid concerns that it would be "trespassing" on employer responsibilities. Ian Diamond, chair of RCUK, said the "close interaction with universities and research organisations in developing this document has been very important".

For more, see www.rcuk.ac.uk

Online now

Last week, Times Higher Education revealed feedback from an event held by the Universities Human Resources Group suggesting that "the time has come to challenge how the trade unions influence the 'business' of higher education". The story provoked an online flurry: "It is HR departments, not the unions or the academics, who appear to be alienated from the real 'business' of education," one reader says. Another adds that poor management, not the unions, is to blame for failings. "It has been unions who have pushed the sector to be more accountable on decision-making, that have held poor management to account and blocked some of the naive decisions made in the name of cost-cutting."

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