News in brief

December 15, 2011

European Commission

Chief Scientific Adviser named

A Scottish biologist has been appointed the European Commission's first Chief Scientific Adviser. Anne Glover, professor of molecular and cell biology at the University of Aberdeen, will relinquish her current post as Chief Scientific Adviser for Scotland at the end of December. Jose Manuel Barroso, Commission president, who interviewed the applicants, said that experience made Professor Glover the "standout candidate" for the new post, which he first announced in September 2009. As well as providing the president with independent advice on "any aspect of science, technology and innovation", her duties will include commenting on policy proposals, helping to interpret scientific evidence and giving early warning of "issues that might arise when scientific progress entails either opportunity or threat for the European Union". She will also be expected to "communicate the scientific values on which specific Commission proposals are based in order to enhance public confidence in science and technology".

Student attitudes

Artists have global mindset

Arts students are more than twice as likely as science students to have an "international outlook" and to engage in study-abroad programmes, a report has found. The British Council research - based on a YouGov poll of 1,000 people - also discovered that only a third of science, technology and engineering students felt that having an international outlook was important for their subject. The survey, Next Generation UK, reveals that less than half of all students think that having an international mindset benefits their employment prospects.

Leveson inquiry

Journalism courses 'not to blame'

University journalism courses are not responsible for industry ethical failings such as the News of the World phone-hacking scandal, journalism lecturers have told the Leveson inquiry. Academics from seven institutions were called to give evidence on 8 December at the investigation into the culture, practice and ethics of the press. Angela Phillips, senior lecturer at Goldsmiths, University of London, said "young people come into journalism through training as very ethical young people" but had to confront the commercial realities of work. George Brock, head of the journalism department at City University London, said the "culture of a newsroom" was the "fundamental influence on what people do". The academics' appearance at the inquiry coincided with the announcement that Bethany Usher, a journalism lecturer at Teesside University, has been told by police that she will not face charges after she was arrested by detectives working on the phone-hacking inquiry.

Scholar Rescue Fund

£10,000 raised at THE awards

Guests at this year's Times Higher Education Awards contributed £10,000 to a charity that helps academics exposed to harassment, persecution and torture. The awards ceremony, held at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London on 24 November, included an appeal for the Scholar Rescue Fund. The fund, established by the Institute of International Education in 2002, provides fellowships for established scholars whose lives and work are threatened in their home countries, allowing them to find temporary refuge at universities and colleges anywhere in the world. Guests at the awards contributed £8,775 in cash and pledged £1,350 more.


There were contrasting responses to last week's article on the accuracy of Google Books and implications for scholarship. Mike Perry said one problem was that "geeky culture and scholarly culture attach very different values to accuracy. Geeks played video games in high school, blasting space aliens to bits. Scholars read serious books even then. Detail matters to them. Blasting away matters to geeks." But Mike Simpson said the worries were "a load of rot". The "sheer volume of data means mistakes will creep in, just as they have done with all forms of written communication".

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