News in brief

August 5, 2010

Research councils: Boyle and Savill take top jobs

New chief executives have been appointed at two British research councils. Paul Boyle, who is head of the School of Geography and Geosciences at the University of St Andrews, takes over at the Economic and Social Research Council from 1 September for a four-year term. Ian Diamond, the previous chief executive, left in June to assume the roles of principal and vice-chancellor of the University of Aberdeen. Meanwhile, Sir John Savill has been appointed chief executive of the Medical Research Council for a three-year term beginning on 1 October. He takes over from Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, who will succeed Dame Alison Richard as vice-chancellor of the University of Cambridge. Sir John has been vice-principal and head of the College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine at the University of Edinburgh since 2002. At the MRC he will work alongside Sir John Chisholm, who has been reappointed as chair for two more years.

Research excellence framework: Hefce seeks subpanel chairs

The Higher Education Funding Council for England is advertising for chairs for the 2014 research excellence framework subpanels. As previously reported in Times Higher Education, the number of subpanels has been reduced from 67 in the 2008 research assessment exercise to 36 for the forthcoming REF. The main panels, whose chairs were announced last month, have also been reduced in number from 15 to four. Applications for subpanel chairs should be submitted by 17 September. Hefce is also inviting organisations and associations with an interest in research, excluding higher education institutions, to nominate panel members by 8 October.

Quality assessment: Public scrutiny for private college

The Quality Assurance Agency is to review a private college for the first time. St Patrick's International College in London will be examined via the Integrated Quality and Enhancement Review method, a process designed for higher education. Gillian Hayes, the deputy director of the QAA, said: "We appreciate the enthusiasm of St Patrick's in preparing for review." Raj Kumaran, director of education at St Patrick's, said: "While many public colleges are obliged to be part of these review processes, St Patrick's has taken the bold step of asking to be included in such a review - a first for the private sector. This opening of our doors to public scrutiny not only demonstrates our willingness to enhance our provision, but also our confidence in our offering."

Research and consultancy: Observatory joins i-graduate

The Observatory on Borderless Higher Education is to become part of i-graduate, the research and consultancy group. The OBHE, which was originally set up by Universities UK and the Association of Commonwealth Universities, studies transnational higher education. Chief executive Don Olcott said: "The research role of OBHE, in concert with the proven market survey and analysis role of i-graduate, will be a value-added resource for the entire sector." Nicola Dandridge, chief executive of UUK, said: "We are proud to have been involved in the observatory from inception, and we wish it every success in the next stage of its development."


Last week's warning from the Higher Education Funding Council for England that universities must tighten up on international travel costs and jaunts for vice-chancellors' spouses provoked debate online. 'Laureate' writes: "Many UK universities receive a minority of their income from Hefce, some as little as 20 per cent. This raises the question of Hefce's right - legal and moral - to dictate how they should spend their money. Sometimes the presence of the spouse is a cultural expectation."


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