News in Brief

January 27, 2011

Knowledge transfer

That's the enterprising spirit

Academics will be encouraged to behave more like entrepreneurs with the help of a Dragons' Den star. A series of "boot camp" seminars will advise lecturers on how to make the most of their intellectual assets and pass the spirit of entrepreneurialism on to their students. Sessions run under the National Council for Graduate Entrepreneurship pilot scheme will cover social entrepreneurship, engaging with business and exploiting intellectual property. The training programme will be delivered by Doug Richard, the entrepreneur and former panellist on the BBC television show. Five institutions have signed up for the pilot, including the universities of Hertfordshire and Central Lancashire. Ian Robertson, chief executive of the NCGE, said the response among academics had been "huge...There is not an awful lot of support for academics to explore and exploit what they do. There is enormous demand for this." The project is funded by banking giant Santander, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, and the Technology Strategy Board.

Workplace equality

Female professors on the rise

More women are reaching the rank of professor, according to new data. Figures released by the Higher Education Statistics Agency show that at 1 December 2009, 19.1 per cent of professors were female, up from 18.7 per cent the previous year. The overall proportion of female academic staff also grew to 44 per cent, up from 43.4 per cent in 2008. Also on the increase was the proportion of academic staff on permanent contracts, up from 64.8 per cent to 66.2 per cent. A total of 387,430 staff were employed in the academy as a whole, a rise of 1 per cent on the previous year.

Teaching standards

Welsh pedagogy up for prizes

Welsh universities are now able to take part in a major teaching award scheme for the sector. Submissions are invited for the Higher Education Academy's National Teaching Fellowship Scheme 2011, which will now include academics in Wales as well as those in England and Northern Ireland. The scheme recognises excellence in teaching and learning and showcases the work of individuals who have made an "outstanding impact" on the student experience in higher education. A grant of up to £10,000 is awarded to each winner. Craig Mahoney, chief executive of the HEA, said: "Higher education is at a pivotal point in its history and we all have a responsibility to make sure that teaching excellence is not compromised as changes take effect. The commitment and expertise of our National Teaching Fellows remains an inspiration to teachers and students alike." The deadline for submissions to this year's scheme is 23 March.

Student places

Hefce set to decide allocations

Universities will soon learn how the funding council will allocate thousands of student places for the next academic year. The government is allowing the sector to keep the 10,000 extra places in 2011-12 that were provided in 2010-11 through the University Modernisation Fund, a scheme brought in under Labour for one year only. Places for the UMF were subject to a bidding process, so the Higher Education Funding Council for England must now decide how to distribute the places for next year. The matter will be discussed at a Hefce board meeting on 28 January.


News that top research departments performed unexpectedly poorly in the Higher Education Funding Council for England's pilot impact-assessment exercise has generated lively debate online.

One reader concludes that the pilot has established "that good scientists are not good at writing bullshit".

Another says: "The real good news is that this exercise didn't give the government the answer it wanted...The puzzling results may cause government to scrap the exercise completely."


More opinion, news and reader debate.

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