News in brief

October 22, 2009

Postgraduate study

BIS launches review of provision

Views are being sought from the sector about the state of postgraduate provision. The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) formally announced a review of the area last week. It will consider the benefits of postgraduate study to the economy and the country as a whole, as well as to its competitiveness and the UK's international position. The review will be headed by Adrian Smith, director-general of research at BIS.

To contribute, visit www.bis.gov.uk/postgraduate-review

Feature, page 30

Public engagement

'Box-ticking' REF could sap work

Making public engagement an activity on which academics are officially scored could reduce its impact, a new study suggests. The study carried out by researchers at the London School of Economics found that formalising public engagement in academia, as is being planned in the forthcoming research excellence framework, could transform it into a "box-ticking" exercise. The research, based on interviews with scientists, found that most were positive about public engagement but also highlighted concerns about the trend towards formalisation.

Opinion, page 24

International collaboration

Scottish-Indo deal signed

Universities Scotland and the Association of Indian Universities have signed a memorandum of understanding to promote the internationalisation of higher education in the two countries. The groups will encourage Indian and Scottish universities to work together and to promote greater collaboration between their scientific and academic communities. Universities Scotland and AIU will share information, and a reciprocal programme of visits will be set up by 2010.

Funding council

Satisfaction with Hefce rises

Organisations that work with the Higher Education Funding Council for England have said that the quality of their relationship has improved in the past four years. An Ipsos MORI report found that Hefce was improving the way it works with staff and stakeholders, with the majority rating the organisation as "approachable" and "effective". Eighty-two per cent of external partners said that they had a favourable impression of the organisation, and six in ten said they would "speak highly" of it. Hefce staff were even more positive - 83 per cent would "speak highly" of their employer. But Hefce was seen as less effective when it came to engaging with employers through skills development and supporting links with business.

Bioscience campus

A hothouse for new businesses

Plans for a £37 million bioscience campus in Stevenage, Hertfordshire, have been announced by Lord Mandelson, the First Secretary. The campus, funded jointly by the Government, GlaxoSmithKline, the Wellcome Trust, the Technology Strategy Board (TSB) and the East of England Development Agency (EEDA), will create a home for early-stage biotech companies. It will initially house about 25 companies, located with GSK on its existing research site, with plans to increase capacity at the park fivefold over ten years. The project is being funded with £11.7 million from the Government, £10.9 million from GSK, £6 million from the Wellcome Trust, £5 million from the TSB and £4 million from EEDA. It could create up to 1,500 jobs.

ONLINE NOW

Teesside University's triumph at the Times Higher Education Awards, taking the prize for University of the Year, was widely welcomed among readers online. One praised it for its "character, energy and optimism", another for having "by far the most 'can do' attitude I have encountered in 20 years". Other supporters were even more effusive: "I worked at Teesside for nine years and felt like I was leaving my family behind," one writes. "How many employers can boast the same commitment from their staff?"

Plus

More reader debate, breaking news and the latest from our online columnists, including the "insecure scholar".

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