News in Brief

November 12, 2009

Teaching parity

Research still key to top posts

Very few promotions to senior posts in research-intensive universities include teaching as a criterion for advancement, a study for the Higher Education Academy (HEA) has found. In a lecture this week at City University London, Paul Ramsden, chief executive of the HEA, revealed some of the headline findings of a survey of the criteria universities use to promote their staff. Out of 104 institutions, every one had research criteria in their promotion policies, but just 73 included teaching criteria. Only 46 institutions were able to provide data about which promotions had incorporated teaching as a component. The study's full results will be reported later this year.

Green agenda

Land-management in decline

Better provision of landscape management degrees is needed to develop urban green spaces, says a report published on 11 November. The Grey to Green report by the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE), the Government's adviser on urban design, calls for a shift in public spending from "grey" projects such as road building to "green infrastructure" schemes such as parks and waterways. It cites falling numbers of land management courses as a key trend, noting that three of the 11 institutions offering professionally accredited landscape management degrees have closed courses in the past three years. A perception among students that green infrastructure jobs are "low prestige" has contributed to dwindling numbers of courses, the report says. Sarah Gaventa, director of CABE Space, said: "People are not applying for courses because there is a perception that it is not as glamorous (as other options) and you can't make an impact in the way you could if you were an architect, planner or highways engineer. That's not true."

Scottish research alliance

Huge boost for marine scientists

The Scottish Funding Council has put £17.4 million into a new research alliance bringing together marine science experts from universities and research institutes across Scotland. The Marine Alliance for Science and Technology for Scotland (MASTS) will receive the funding over seven years. Eight universities are partners in the project, including Aberdeen, Glasgow, Stirling and Edinburgh Napier. The MASTS pool will look at biodiversity, marine predators, sustainability and fisheries. Its creation will generate eight new professorships and 13 lectureships and readerships. A graduate academy will offer postgraduate training in marine sciences.


Capital set for new names

The University of East London has appointed a professor of psychology as its new vice-chancellor. Patrick McGhee, who is currently deputy vice-chancellor of the University of Central Lancashire, will take up the post on 1 February next year. The university is currently being led by Sir Deian Hopkin after Susan Price, the acting vice-chancellor, was named head of Leeds Metropolitan University. Meanwhile, the governors of London Met are to appoint a new vice-chancellor on 18 November - the same day they are due to receive an independent report into their oversight of the university's data-reporting processes. London Met was asked to repay £36.5 million to the Higher Education Funding Council for England this year after inaccuracies were uncovered in its student completion figures.


Last week, Times Higher Education reported on growing friction over plans to force researchers to demonstrate the economic and social impact of their work. At an event attended by senior sector figures, it was suggested that resistance was less strong among early-career researchers than among veterans. This provoked debate online. "Alternative interpretation: young people and early-career researchers are in far too insecure a position to risk disagreeing openly," one reader writes.


The latest from our online columnists, including the Insecure Scholar, Tara Brabazon and Gloria Monday, and more reader debate.

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