News in Brief

April 28, 2011

Research funding

Cuts could hit charity investment

Further government cuts to research funding could have a damaging effect on charity-funded research, Cancer Research UK has warned. A report by the Office of Health Economics, commissioned by the charity, reveals that CRUK spends about half of its £325 million annual research budget in universities. It warns that the long-term impact of cuts through the loss of infrastructure would be difficult to reverse quickly, while cuts to the Charity Research Support Fund, which covers the indirect costs of charity-funded research, would force charities to reduce their research spending. The support fund budget in 2011-12 is nearly £200 million. Sarah Woolnough, director of policy at CRUK, said: "The government's policy on growth has centred on getting more private investment into research. However, research charities invested over £1 billion last year in research in the UK and the government should be making it a priority to do all it can to maintain it."

University management

Lancaster v-c heads Down Under

Paul Wellings is to step down as vice-chancellor of Lancaster University to take up a parallel post at an Australian institution. Professor Wellings, who is also head of the 1994 Group of small researchintensive universities, will become vice-chancellor of Wollongong University at the end of this year, succeeding Gerard Sutton, who has held the post for 16 years. He will leave Lancaster in December, cutting short his three-year term of office at the 1994 Group, which had been scheduled to run until August 2012. The move marks a return to Australia for Professor Wellings, who has dual British/Australian citizenship and who worked in the country in the 1980s and 90s.


Call to report online material

Academics are being asked to report any terrorist content they discover online to a government website. Reports submitted to the directgov site have already led to the removal of videos of beheadings, terrorist training manuals and incitement to racial or religious violence. Although all internet users are being asked to assist, the government said that lecturers, researchers and librarians were among those most likely to be able to help.

Reports can be submitted to:


New council members appointed

The vice-chancellor of the University of Birmingham, David Eastwood, has been appointed to the governing body of the Arts and Humanities Research Council. Professor Eastwood, a panellist on the Browne Review and a former chief executive of the Higher Education Funding Council for England, said he hoped to "play a creative role in a number of areas, drawing on my academic background in the humanities". He will be joined on the AHRC council, with effect from 1 September, by Greg Walker, Regius professor of rhetoric and English literature at the University of Edinburgh. One of the major challenges Professor Walker foresaw in the sector was finding "a clearer, more supportive and sustainable structure for colleagues seeking to make the difficult transition from postgraduate student to early career teacher and researcher". Five existing council members have been reappointed for a further two or three years.


Readers responded online to the suggestion by Richard Davies, vice-chancellor of Swansea University, that staff take a voluntary pay cut of 3 per cent in return for a "no redundancies" deal.

One writes: "Irish academics have taken pay cuts of up to 15 per cent in recent times. Academic colleagues of mine at the University of California San Diego have taken a compulsory furlough, amounting to an 8 per cent pay cut. We're next in line and frankly, there is very little to be done about it."


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