News in brief

December 1, 2011

EPSRC policy programme

'Don't rush decision,' IoP pleads

The deadline set by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council for final decisions on its "shaping capabilities" programme is too tight, the Institute of Physics has claimed. Researchers have been uneasy about the programme, which will decide to expand or shrink research areas on the basis of their national importance, as well as existing excellence and capacity. The IoP said last week that although it was pleased that the EPSRC had confirmed "that research excellence will remain pre-eminent in assessing funding allocations", there was still "no clarity on the precise form of consultation proposed". It added: "The EPSRC's commitment to announce final decisions by March 2012 may not allow a realistic timescale for all views to be taken into account."


Overseas campus expansion

Research-intensive universities in the UK should consider setting up more campuses overseas, the 1994 Group has said. In a report on internationalisation - Strategies and trends in the internationalisation of UK universities - the mission group argues that research-led institutions should pursue the strategy with as much vigour as post-1992 universities. It also suggests that institutions could work together on such ventures. This change is vital, the report says, given that research intensives have traditionally relied on being able to attract large numbers of overseas students to study in the UK - a trend now at risk as a result of visa reforms.


Documenting results for impact

A web system has been launched that aims to make detailing the impact of research easier for academics. The Research Outcomes System, developed by Research Councils UK, will be used by all academics who have won grants from the Arts and Humanities Research Council, Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council or Economic and Social Research Council from 1 April 2006. Scholars can record research outcomes at any time during or after the grant period, which RCUK has said will make the process more straightforward.


UCL professor to head NERC

A new chief executive has been appointed to the Natural Environment Research Council almost five months after its previous head stepped down. Duncan Wingham will take up the post for a four-year term, starting on 1 January 2012. The position has been filled by interim chief executive Steven Wilson since July, when Alan Thorpe moved to the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts. Professor Wingham, who will also serve as the Nerc's deputy chair, is professor of climate physics at University College London.


Regent's College to evolve

One of the UK's biggest private providers has plans to become a university, more than double in size and take over or link up with other "complementary institutions". The vision put forward for Regent's College, which has around 4,000 students on its central London campus, envisages it having a student body of 10,000 by 2020. In a report, Regent's University London - The Vision for 2020, the institution states that it will accommodate such an expansion by adding other locations to its Regent's Park base.


University College London's proposals for a new campus in East London sparked debate among readers, much of which focused on the problems of dividing research activity over two sites. A reader responds: "I'm a Cambridge life scientist based at the Downing site in the centre of town. I have several colleagues and collaborators who are based at Addenbrooke's Hospital, a good three-mile cycle away along busy roads. It's not ideal, and I'd prefer it if they were next door, but if the link is sufficiently important, you make it work."

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