News in Brief

July 22, 2010

Graduate jobs

Prescription for success

There is wide variation in graduate employment rates between universities, figures show. The proportion of graduates who are working or studying six months after graduation ranges from 100 per cent at The School of Pharmacy to 74.4 per cent at London South Bank University. Data published by the Higher Education Statistics Agency show that the top-performing university is the University of Surrey, where 96.9 per cent of those obtaining first degrees via full-time study in 2008-09 were employed or in further study, followed by the Robert Gordon University (95.9 per cent) and the University of Cambridge (95.2 per cent). At the other end of the scale, LSBU is followed by London Metropolitan University (74.5 per cent) and the University of Greenwich (79.8 per cent). Separately, the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service has said that applications for 2010 admission have risen 11.6 per cent on last year. As of 30 June, 660,953 people have applied to start full-time undergraduate courses this autumn, compared with 592,312 at the same point last summer.

Medical research

Sir Paul Nurse heads new centre

It has been confirmed that the first director of the UK Centre for Medical Research and Innovation will be Sir Paul Nurse. Sir Paul, who has been chairing the institute's advisory committee, will take up the post at the beginning of next year. The £600 million centre, funded by the Medical Research Council, Cancer Research UK, the Wellcome Trust and University College London, is to open in 2015. Earlier this month it was confirmed that Sir Paul will take over from Lord Rees as president of the Royal Society on 1 December. He is currently president of Rockefeller University in New York. He shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2001.

VAT hike on e-books

Libraries in plea to Chancellor

The organisation representing the UK and Ireland's university libraries has warned about the impact of plans to increase VAT on e-books to 20 per cent. In a letter to Chancellor George Osborne, Toby Bainton, secretary of the Society of College, National and University Libraries, says the current VAT regime is "perverse". Printed books are not subject to VAT in Britain, and European ministers agreed last year that member states could reduce VAT on e-books to 5 per cent. Yet the UK government continues to charge the full rate of 17.5 per cent, which will rise to 20 per cent from 2011. The increase represents an extra cost of £3 million a year to university libraries. Mr Bainton said that more than half of research library acquisition expenditure is on e-publications. He urged the Chancellor to rethink his policy on e-books.

Scottish Funding Council

Local recruitment rules relaxed

The Scottish Funding Council has agreed to relax the limit on student recruitment for four universities to allow them to honour a commitment to local college students. Robert Gordon, Edinburgh Napier, Queen Margaret and Glasgow Caledonian universities will not be penalised for accepting 300 extra students between them next year. The institutions have agreements in place allowing students on HNC and HND courses at further education colleges to progress immediately to the second or third year of a degree course. Owing to increased demand for places and the cap on student numbers, the universities had feared they would be unable to honour the agreements.

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Last week's report on the qualities students value in lecturers included the claim that students' attention spans have been "dropping in each successive generation". Some readers disagreed. "I've seen young people ... concentrating fiercely on a task for hours on end," one writes. "It could be that people's tolerance for boring situations is what is on the decline. I'm not quite sure why I have to deliver lectures in the most uninspiring circumstances ... I'd rather take students out into a field, sometimes. And bring most of them back."

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