News in brief

January 20, 2011

Workplace equality

Gay-positive universities named

British universities are becoming increasingly gay-friendly employers, according to Stonewall. The gay rights charity's annual Workplace Equality Index names five universities among the 100 best companies and organisations to work for. Liverpool John Moores University is ranked 48th-best employer, ahead of the University of Salford (60), Cardiff University (80), Imperial College London (87) and the University of Cambridge (90). Last year just two institutions, Imperial and Liverpool John Moores, featured. A Stonewall spokesman said: "The gap in scores between positions one and 100 was significantly reduced and this, along with the implementation of the Equality Act, will continue to drive diversity forward."

A levels

Awarding body seeks input

An exam board is seeking the views of the higher education sector on how to get universities more involved in the design of A levels. The coalition government wants universities and learned bodies to play a larger part in the development of the qualifications. Now Cambridge Assessment, the parent body of the exam board OCR, has launched a consultation on its proposals, which would see higher education take a major role in specifying the content of qualifications and also see awarding bodies agree among themselves on their design. The deadline for responses is Friday 11 February.

Cancer research

Consortium to tackle tough cells

Cancer Research UK has chosen four research teams to take part in a £500,000 project to study a class of cancer cells that resists conventional treatments. Teams from the universities of Cambridge, Manchester, York and Cardiff will focus on cancer stem cells, which are thought to be one cause of the recurrence and spread of tumours to other parts of the body. The Cancer Stem Cell Consortium hopes to find a way to spot and kill cells involved in tumours of the breast, prostate, head and neck. The charity, which will fund the project for two years, hopes each team will attract an industry partner to bring in additional skills and longer-term funding in exchange for access to the teams' intellectual property and help in translating it into new treatments.

International education

Official THE role at Going Global

Times Higher Education has been selected as the official media partner for the British Council's Going Global conference in March - billed as the world's largest international education conference. The event, which will take place in Hong Kong from 10 to 12 March, brings together more than 250 speakers from 70 countries, presenting research and leading debate on the theme, "World education: the new powerhouse?". A spokesman for the British Council said: "There is an international expectation that innovation and economic growth will be generated by growing global networks of researchers, students and institutions. Going Global will explore the impact this will have on the purpose and practice of education." THE staff at the event will post daily updates online.


In the feature "The fruits of Californication" (13 January), we wrongly referred to the astronomer Richard Ellis as Sir Richard. We apologise for the error.


Warnings that rising student debt and the lack of state support for postgraduates could result in taught postgraduate courses becoming "completely populated" by overseas and wealthy home students provoked comment. One reader writes: "If the path to a doctorate and hence to an academic career is limited to those whose families are sufficiently wealthy to fund them, higher education will, in the future, be even more dominated by those who have a stake in the status quo and wish to preserve their own and their children's comfort."


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