News in Brief

July 1, 2010

Entry requirements

Ucas points to tariff reform

The UK Universities and Colleges Admissions Service has announced a review of its tariff, the system that allows qualifications to be converted into points. It is used by many universities to set entry requirements and make offers. Mary Curnock Cook, Ucas chief executive, said the tariff was about 10 years old and was designed with a focus on A levels. However, other qualifications, including vocational and composite ones, had since grown in prominence, so it was time to reconsider the system. She said that fewer than half of home students who entered higher education now had an A-level qualification, while only a third of the "level-three" qualifications available to home students were covered by the tariff. International qualifications were also growing in importance, she added. Universities welcomed the review. Thames Valley University said it would like to see apprenticeships included in the tariff. The University of Cambridge said it did not use tariff points when making offers, but the inclusion of international qualifications could potentially be helpful.

Research ethics

Rules to guide animal experiments

A list of rules for scientists to follow when working with laboratory animals has been launched in the journal PLoS Biology. The 20-point checklist was drawn up by the UK's National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research and seeks to address issues of poor reporting of animal experimentation in academic journals and research papers. The rules call for more detail to be given about the number and type of animals used in research, how they are housed, how data are gathered and analysed, and any adverse outcomes. The list has been approved by the UK's Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, the Medical Research Council and the Wellcome Trust.

Science publishing

New editor to maintain 'ethos'

Medical Hypotheses, the journal whose editor, Bruce Charlton, was sacked by publisher Elsevier last month, has appointed a new editor-in-chief. Mehar Manku, chief scientific officer at Amarin Corporation, will lead the journal as it drops its policy of selecting articles according to how interesting or provocative they are and instead implements a peer-review system. However, Dr Manku said he would maintain the "ethos, heritage and unique characteristics" of the publication. Vacancies remain on the Medical Hypotheses board after a swathe of resignations in the wake of Professor Charlton's dismissal. The changes in editorial policy were demanded by Elsevier after an outcry over the journal's publication of a paper that denied the link between HIV and Aids.


Fresh blood to scrutinise BIS

Prominent trade unionist Jack Dromey is among nine new Labour and Conservative MPs elected by their parties to serve on the Business, Innovation and Skills Select Committee. Mr Dromey will be joined by three other Labour MPs: Luciana Berger, Chi Onwurah and Rachel Reeves. The five Conservative MPs elected to serve on the committee, four of them newly elected in 2010, are Rebecca Harris, Margot James, Nicky Morgan, Nadhim Zahawi and Brian Binley. Labour MP Adrian Bailey had already been elected as the committee chair in a cross-party vote in the House of Commons.

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