News in brief

June 23, 2011

Archive digitisation

Vive la révolution numérique

The British Library has announced a major strategic partnership with Google that will result in the digitisation of about 250,000 publications. It is expected that a total of 40 million pages, all dating from the period 1700-1870 and thus out of copyright, will be digitised. The emphasis will be on European content that has not previously been converted. For example, the library holds more than 50,000 tracts and periodicals relating to the French Revolution, many of which are not presently accessible even in the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris, but which this initiative will make freely available at the British Library. Although Google has previously worked on digitisation projects with other major national and university libraries, this is its first such undertaking with the British Library.

Tuition-fee reform in Wales

No to access plans, all areas

Welsh universities have been sent back to the drawing board over their plans to improve access in advance of the rise in tuition fees. The Higher Education Funding Council for Wales has written to all 10 higher education institutions and four further education colleges in the country to inform them that their initial plans for higher tuition fees in 2012-13 have been rejected. Any institution in Wales wishing to charge annual tuition fees of more than £4,000 for home undergraduates is obliged to submit a fee plan to Hefcw, which is similar to England's access agreements. Hefcw has informed the 14 Welsh institutions that the submitted plans "in their current form do not meet the necessary requirements".

Exam howlers

Last call for errata

A final call is being made for entries to the Times Higher Education exam howlers competition 2011. Academics are asked to submit the most egregious errors and inadvertently comic misunderstandings that they come across as they wade through this year's exam papers. A magnum of champagne awaits the reader who submits the winning entry.

Send your competition entries to

Medical research

NHS rethink offers reassurance

Medical researchers have welcomed the increased emphasis on research following the government's rethink of its proposed reorganisation of the NHS. Campaigners had expressed concern that the reforms proposed in the health and social care bill, which would see responsibility for NHS commissioning in England transferred to groups of GPs, could undermine the health service's role in medical research. But following a report by the independent NHS Future Forum, published last week, the government has announced that it will impose a duty on both the health secretary and the commissioning boards to promote research. The latter will also have a duty to promote the use of research evidence.

PPA Awards 2011

THE takes home top honours

Times Higher Education has been named magazine of the year in its category at a national awards ceremony. THE picked up two of the top prizes at the PPA Awards last week, winning Weekly Business Magazine of the Year and Business Media Brand of the Year. The judges described it as "an unbelievably good-looking magazine" with "exceptional content" that was "broad, imaginative and provocative".

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