News in brief

June 16, 2011

Science and engineering

Rational voice in the Treasury

Scientists have applauded the appointment of a chief scientific adviser to the Treasury. The role was filled last week by James Richardson, who will also retain his current post as the department's director of public spending and chief microeconomist. Imran Khan, director of the Campaign for Science and Engineering, said: "Ultimately we would like to see a fully independent external appointment, but for now we're encouraged that the precedent has been set."

Degree standards

Acme formula for trouble

The majority of students whose degree courses require mathematical knowledge lack the necessary skills in the discipline. This is among the findings of a report published this week by the Advisory Committee on Mathematics Education, Mathematical Needs, which analysed the content of a range of university courses and found a "marked discrepancy" between the number requiring maths skills and the number of students who had them. Dame Julia Higgins, chair of the committee, said: "Few students now study the requisite level of mathematics to prepare them properly for higher education, and many universities have to downgrade requirements for entry in order to fill places."

Overseas students

Post-quake assistance

A £250,000 scholarship scheme has been set up to assist Japanese students in the region devastated by the earthquake earlier this year. The scheme has been launched by the Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation in partnership with the British Council, and will support people from the Tohoku region seeking to study in the UK. Scholarships will be available for students from the undergraduate to the doctoral level, and the deadline for applications is 31 August.

Research councils

EPSRC chief to stay on

David Delpy has been reappointed chief executive of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. Professor Delpy, who is also Research Councils UK's impact champion, will remain in post until March 2014 after extending his initial four-year term. The former vice-provost for research at University College London said he was grateful for the opportunity to implement the EPSRC's new strategy, which would see it "adopting a greater sponsorship role and helping to deliver even more social and economic impact".

Postgraduate research

Temperature rises for PhDs

Young researchers felt under more pressure in 2010 than they did the previous year, according to a three-year study. The Researchers of Tomorrow project, which is funded by the British Library and Jisc, has been tracking doctoral students born between 1982 and 1994. Although the group assessed felt less constrained than older students by factors such as family pressure and lack of money, they reported being under greater pressure than those interviewed in 2009. The research also looked at students' use of technology and opinions on open access.


Last week we reported that the University of Bristol had received a $1.1 billion (£671 million) donation for stem-cell research. The figure was in fact $1.1 million. Apologies for the error.

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