News in Brief

March 31, 2011

Branding

TVU maps out a new identity

Thames Valley University is to change its name: from 6 April it will be known as the University of West London. The rebranding was delayed because of a disagreement with Brunel University, but there are no outstanding issues of dispute.

Research funding

Do the sums, but just once

Universities' deployment of European and domestic funding should be subject to the same accounting standards, according to the League of European Research Universities (Leru). In a briefing paper on rationalising the "excessive red tape" associated with current European funding, Leru says that the European Commission's Eighth Framework Programme, which begins in 2014, should abolish the need for "parallel accounting" for national and European projects and adopt the accounting requirements of each university's national research funder, which are usually simpler. "When the usual accounting system is acceptable and an external audit system is established, the obligation to have separate accounting requirements for Framework projects should be abolished," says the paper, "Research funding: Best national practices for simplification".

N8 group

Clubbing together in the lab

Eight research-intensive universities in the north of England say they plan to work together to maximise access to research equipment. The N8 group, which comprises the universities of Durham, Lancaster, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Sheffield and York, said that the move was prompted by large cuts to the research capital budget announced for the next spending period. The move is also a response to last year's Wakeham review of full economic costing, which called on universities to make 5 per cent savings in the indirect costs of research. Trevor McMillan, pro vice-chancellor for research at Lancaster and chair of the N8 management group, said that the universities intended to develop new models for maximising the use of capital assets. "These will need to be schemes that facilitate interaction while giving funders, including research councils, some reassurance that their investments are producing maximum benefit," he said.

University income

Hesa stats paint £26.8bn picture

The latest figures from the Higher Education Statistics Agency show that UK universities had a total income of £26.8 billion in 2009-10, with money from tuition fees and contracts up 13.4 per cent on the previous year. Funding bodies provided £9 billion of this income (up by 2.5 per cent on 2008-09), while tuition fees and education contracts contributed almost as much at £8.3 billion. The figures also showed that spending on staff costs increased by 3.3 per cent to £14.6 billion, while expenditure on interest and other finance costs rose by 17.6 per cent to £453 million.

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Corrections

Those named in "Identity check" (24 March) as vice-chancellors in 2009-10 were those who signed off on the universities' accounts. The vice-chancellor's salary for Imperial College London given in the tables represented the cost of more than one office holder in 2009-10. The salary for the University of Gloucestershire included exceptional items. Paul Curran attended a state school. The percentage increase in the salary of the vice-chancellor of the University of Nottingham, including his pension, was 3.01 per cent.

ONLINE NOW

Our survey of vice-chancellors' pay revealed an average fall of 1.21 per cent in the value of salary and benefits packages, but salaries alone rose by 0.6 per cent. Online readers took issue with the high level of salaries. One writes: "Someone somewhere has to bring about a system that makes v-cs far more accountable for their actions and reduces pay for those who don't cut the mustard. I have no objection to grand salaries, but only when they are demonstrably able to perform up to and beyond the level of the majority of staff who serve them."

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