News in brief

October 14, 2010


Catalogue of errors, nothing more

An investigation into senior staff at London Metropolitan University has concluded that there is no case for disciplinary action after the financial crisis at the institution. Law firm Eversheds, which carried out the exercise, has "seen no evidence" of "any attempt or collusion to manipulate" the university's student-records system, says a summary report published last week. London Met has been forced to repay tens of millions of pounds as a result of errors in the data it returned to the Higher Education Funding Council for England, particularly relating to student dropout rates between 2005 and 2008. Eversheds says it believes that the university's systems "were set up in a way that maximised the returns (of the number of completions) by accident". London Met's University and College Union branch said it was concerned about the depth of the investigation.


It didn't happen here

There is "no evidence" that a Nigerian terror suspect was radicalised while studying at University College London, an independent review concluded last week. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who studied engineering at UCL between 2005 and 2008, is alleged to have attempted to blow up a passenger jet on Christmas Day last year. The review panel established to investigate whether the former president of UCL's Islamic Society was radicalised during his time at the university says there is nothing to suggest that. It adds that "no student-support system, however sophisticated, would have drawn attention to him as a potential terrorist". It concludes with a series of recommendations, including strengthening the UCL Union's processes for monitoring invitations to visiting speakers.


Commission backs blue skies

Supporting blue-skies research is at the heart of the European Commission's innovation strategy, according to the commissioner in charge. Unveiling the Innovation Union strategy, Maire Geoghegan-Quinn pledged to champion outstanding basic research, noting that "frontier research is not academic indulgence". Europe must build a "world-class science base" and make a "concerted and determined effort to remove bottlenecks that stop ideas reaching the market", she added.

Research assessment

Impact? Have your say

Academics with a view on the impact agenda are being invited to contribute to a new website. Following a workshop, titled The Impact of Impact, at the London School of Economics earlier this year, an expanded report of the event and an accompanying blog site have been set up to accommodate the large volume of responses expected. Posts can be submitted until 1 November.

International collaboration

Fresh start for thinkers

The Middlesex University philosophy research centre controversially threatened with closure has reopened at Kingston University. The Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy celebrated the move by announcing a partnership with the department of philosophy at the University of Paris 8, an institution famed for its radical history. They will work together on research, staff and student exchanges and the creation of a master's programme.


Last week's report on research by Mara Olekalns, deputy dean of Melbourne Business School, which found that women in the academy need to be "likeable" to get ahead, whereas men simply have to be competent, sparked online debate.

One reader writes: "Women generally don't want to play the stupid power games that men think are 'normal', even desirable." Another contributor says: "If women manage to gain enough power of their own, men will fawn up to them just as women have fawned up to men."


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