News in brief

January 7, 2010

Doctoral training - Three centres to do the maths

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council has announced a £13 million investment to fund three Centres for Doctoral Training (CDTs). The centres will be based at the universities of Cambridge, Lancaster and Warwick and will focus on different areas of mathematics. They will open at the beginning of the next academic year, and each will train at least 40 students over seven years. Cambridge will get a new "centre for analysis"; Lancaster's centre will focus on statistics and operational research; and Warwick will focus on mathematical sciences. The new additions will bring the total number of EPSRC-sponsored CDTs to 51.

Remuneration - Guidance on governors' pay

Universities should not pay fees to their governors unless doing so provides a "significant and clear advantage" over all other options, advice says. Universities now come under the remit of the Charity Commission, which has issued guidance on trustee remuneration. In a higher education briefing, law firm Pinsent Masons says: "The key point is that the governing body must have resolved that it is clearly in the interests of the university." The members should have "taken reasonable steps to identify and consider all other reasonably available options for recruiting or retaining a suitable candidate, and decided that offering the remuneration provides a significant and clear advantage over all other options", the briefing adds. A number of universities currently pay fees to their governors. Since 2008, Leeds Metropolitan University has allowed all its lay governors to claim sums totalling £67,500 per year. The fees are in addition to expenses claims.

Languages - New light for Gaelic study

Funding of £5.3 million has been made available for research into the Scottish Gaelic language and culture. The money will be shared between four institutions: the UHI Millennium Institute and the universities of Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow. The partnership, known as Soillse, will recruit new research staff, create nine PhD studentships and hold an annual conference to showcase its findings. The Scottish Funding Council has put in £1.9 million, with £2.5 million coming from the institutions plus cash from Bord na Gaidhlig, the Gaelic development agency, and Highlands and Islands Enterprise.

Fundraising - The gift of giving

Universities in the UK should consider following in the footsteps of a Dutch institution to boost their income from philanthropic gifts, a fundraising expert has said. Donors giving small regular sums to the Rotterdam School of Management will now be able to choose how their gift is spent - a privilege often reserved for major donors. Kate Hunter, executive director of the Council for Advancement and Support of Education Europe, said UK universities should consider similar schemes. "Whatever the size of a donation, giving donors the opportunity to know where and how their money is used is vital," she said.


Last week, we reported that Phil Davis was executive director of the US Office of Science and Technology Policy. In fact, he is executive editor of a blog run by the US-based Society for Scholarly Publishing, The Scholarly Kitchen. Apologies for the error.


Provost Malcolm Grant's defence of University College London amid claims that a former student suspected of attempting to blow up a US passenger jet was radicalised while studying there prompted more than 80 comments. One reader, Richard Stephens, said: "This isn't about debating and freedom of speech, it's about our universities becoming ideological training grounds for terrorists." But Wes Streeting, president of the National Union of Students, welcomed the piece, adding: "Let's allow the police and security services to ascertain the facts before jumping to conclusions."


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