News in brief

August 19, 2010

Grant income

More books, more cash

An independent study funded by the journal publisher Elsevier has found a correlation between investment in university library collections and grant income. The study, led by Carol Tenopir, director of the Center for Information and Communication Studies at the University of Tennessee, states that for every dollar spent on academic libraries, institutions receive a return of more than a dollar in research-grant income. Two institutions also show a correlation between increased library investment and increased grant funding. "Although the exact monetary amount of the returns in grants varies with the mission of the institution, our research shows that the collections and services of all university libraries help faculty write better grant proposals and articles and help them do better research," Dr Tenopir said.

Lifelong learning

OU calls for cash incentives

The Welsh government is being urged to cut business rates for companies that help to pay for their employees to study. According to The Open University in Wales, only 42 per cent of Welsh businesses offer any support to staff to help them gain further education or professional-development qualifications. It argues that many more would help to fund their staff through higher education and lifelong-learning courses if they were rewarded for doing so. In a manifesto to be presented to Welsh politicians, the institution asks the government to ensure "that some of the expenses incurred by a small or medium-sized enterprise which sponsors part-time learning by employees in priority skills be deductible from its business rates". The proposed scheme mirrors an existing deal that allows employers helping to provide childcare for staff to claim such relief.

Joint procurement

Lean times force buying pact

A new legal-services framework has been agreed in a bid to deliver better value for money to the London Universities Purchasing Consortium. The LUPC, which represents 60 organisations, including dozens of London-based universities and colleges, aims to maximise the purchasing power of its members through joint procurement of goods and services. Under the legal framework, announced last week, 13 law firms will provide legal services to the group, which will benefit from improved rates and "more standardised" services. Any savings will be particularly welcome in light of the decline in public funding, which is set to fall sharply following the Comprehensive Spending Review in October. LUPC director Andy Davies said: "Our members identified legal services as a major area of spend with opportunities to ... make significant cash savings. This result demonstrates the benefits that can be achieved through collaborative procurement and we look forward to working with the firms to deliver these benefits."

Exam howlers

Bottoms up

The 2010 Times Higher Education "exam howlers" competition came up with some gems, as reported last week. But there has to be a winner, and this year's victorious entry is from a lecturer at the University of Portsmouth, who reports that a student "wrote about 'anus crimes' all the way through their essay - I finally realised they meant 'heinous crimes'". A magnum of champagne is on its way to the academic, who asked not to be identified.


Concerns that academics too often fail to keep up with the latest technological developments led to heated discussion online.

One reader says: "Call me a grumpy old man, but I want my students to engage with 'old' technology - books, journal articles, conference proceedings, face-to-face discussions in real time, learning to think on their feet ... too often 'new' technologies get reduced to gimmicks and Wikipedia - I want students who can operate the tool between their ears (another piece of pretty old technology) ..."

Plus: Breaking news, opinion and more reader debate.

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