News in brief

October 28, 2010

Pensions

USS enters consultation period

Members of higher education's biggest pension scheme are being consulted on plans to limit their benefits. The consultation on changes to the Universities Superannuation Scheme, which will run until 22 December, will involve about 160,000 active and prospective members. The changes, originally proposed by the employers, include keeping the final-salary structure for current members but placing entrants on a career-average scheme. The University and College Union, which has run its own online survey of members, has said that the official consultation is inadequate.

Business schools

Scholarship's alluring bottom line

Business schools contribute up to £100 million a year towards their regional economies, according to research for the Association of Business Schools. The study, conducted by Nottingham Business School, looked at their roles as hubs for teaching, research and consultancy. It found that in the UK they generate £2 billion in direct income for the economy nationally, with an impact that generates an additional £7 billion. Regional impact is also significant, with Aberdeen and Cardiff business schools generating some £100 million and £76 million respectively for the Scottish and Welsh economies.

Undergraduate admissions

One in three fails to win a place

The number of applicants who failed to secure a place at an English university this summer topped 200,000, figures from the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service reveal. The data, published last week, show that 209,253 people - about one in three applicants - did not get a place. In total, 688,310 people applied, of whom 479,057 succeeded (69.6 per cent), compared with 2009, when 633,592 applied, of whom 477,7 (75.3 per cent) were successful. Sally Hunt, general secretary of the University and College Union, said: "Other countries are investing in universities and in students. We seem intent on doing the opposite." David Willetts, the universities and science minister, said the delivery of 10,000 additional student places for 2010-11 meant "more first-year places this year in English universities than ever before". He added that "going to university has always been a competitive process, so not all who apply are accepted".

Funding

Technology matters

The government has pledged to spend more than £200 million on a network of German-style technology innovation centres to improve the commercialisation of UK research. The centres, which will receive the funding over the next four years, will be based on the model proposed by Hermann Hauser and Sir James Dyson. They will conduct their own research and development and will offer advice and facilities to businesses. Each one will focus on specific areas where UK research is strong and where large potential markets exist. Possibilities identified by Mr Hauser included plastic electronics, regenerative medicine and high-value manufacturing.

Correction

In last week's brief profile of Michael Dillon, author of China: A Modern History, the photograph accompanying the piece was unfortunately incorrect. We apologise for this error.

ONLINE NOW

Confirmation that higher education institutions' teaching funding will be slashed in the wake of the Comprehensive Spending Review, with the arts, humanities and social sciences likely to come off worst, provoked anger among readers online.

One reader writes: "The government is trying to scare the universities into supporting the removal of caps on fees for fear of having no funding at all.

"Don't succumb to the blackmail - we need to call the government's bluff."

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