News in brief

February 18, 2010

General election

Give them what for

Times Higher Education readers are being offered the chance to grill the politicians responsible for higher education ahead of the general election at an exclusive debate. The event will give university staff the chance to put their burning questions to David Lammy, the Higher Education Minister, David Willetts, the Conservative Shadow Universities Secretary, and Stephen Williams, their Liberal Democrat counterpart. The debate will take place at the Royal Geographical Society in London on 24 February from 6.45pm to 9pm. Tickets are free but limited in number, and will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.

http://bit.ly/voteHE

Space

The profitable frontier

Lord Drayson, the Science Minister, has pledged to "look closely" at the findings of a review of the UK space industry's future. The Space Innovation and Growth Team, a working group of industry, Government and the academy set up by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, published its vision for joint work in the area last week. It says the UK could expand its share of the global space market from 6 to 10 per cent by 2020, creating a £40 billion industry and 100,000 jobs in the process. To achieve this, the report says, will require industry support as well as a doubling of public investment in space to £550 million over the next ten years.

www.spaceigs.co.uk

Student admissions

ELQs won't count towards cap

Students who already hold degrees and do not receive public funding for their courses are to be excluded from the government-imposed limit on student numbers. The Higher Education Funding Council for England announced last week that those students aiming for equivalent or lower-level qualifications deemed ineligible for public funding under rules passed in 2007 will no longer count towards the cap on admissions for 2010-11. Students funded by the National Health Service and the Training and Development Agency for Schools will also be excluded.

Research councils

R&D boost for food security

A £15 million scheme has been launched to establish research and development programmes in food security. Universities are among those encouraged to apply for the funding from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council. The project aims to ensure that the UK has the skills needed to support the agrifood sector.

www.bbsrc.ac.uk/atp

Small businesses

Internship scheme flourishes

Fifty universities have tapped into the Government's £13.6 million fund to provide internships in small businesses. The programme offers graduates practical help before, during and after internships, including mentoring, interview training and CV workshops. It is being promoted by the Federation of Small Businesses.

Clarification

Last week, we reported that the University of Nottingham had decided to check "the reading lists of politics lecturers" ("A clear and present danger", page 32). In fact, the process was introduced by the School of Politics and International Relations, not the university, following a vote of the school's staff.

ONLINE NOW

Coverage of Lord Mandelson's speech at the Lord Dearing memorial conference prompted dozens of online comments.

One anonymous writer thinks Labour's desire to cut university funding without affecting quality is possible: "If we could eliminate pedagogy courses for lecturers, training courses in health and safety, and streamline the ... quality assurance process, we would see no demonstrable changes in the student experience ... However, this would require the Government to accept that lecturers ... know how to do their jobs."

News, pages 8-9

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