News in brief

January 19, 2012

Degree appeal

Still doctor no as court backs OIA

A medical student who twice failed his final-year examinations has lost a legal battle over the decision not to award him a degree. Amandip Sandhar, a University of Manchester student, narrowly failed his year-five exams in 2008. He was allowed to resit them in 2009, but was again unsuccessful. He declined a third chance to retake the final year, saying that Manchester should have granted him a degree given mitigating circumstances including the anxiety caused by the illness and death of his grandmother. After exhausting internal procedures at Manchester, he took his case to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator in October 2009, which backed the university's stance. He challenged the OIA's fitness to rule on the matter, claiming that it was not impartial because its funding came from university subscriptions. But the Court of Appeal has now dismissed Mr Sandhar's case for a judicial review, saying that there is no evidence to doubt the OIA's impartiality because independent directors make up the majority of its board. It also backed the OIA's handling of the case.

Science and technology

Souped-up laboratory conditions

Universities are to be encouraged to improve the design of their laboratories to save money, improve performance and reduce their environmental impact. An awards scheme launched by the Safe, Successful and Sustainable Laboratories (S-Lab) initiative at the University of Bradford will reward strategies such as the project at the University of Edinburgh's School of Chemistry, which cut purchasing costs by £100,000 by introducing "cradle-to-grave" tracking of chemicals. Seven awards will be made in the first year, with applications due in by 29 February.


PhD passage to India and US

The British Council is inviting proposals for grants under the UK-India Education and Research Initiative. Ten grants of up to £50,000 each are being made available as part of the Trilateral Research in Partnership Awards, which aim to support the mobility of PhD and postdoctoral students between the UK, India and the US. Funds are available to support projects of up to two years that encourage multidisciplinary research projects and sustainable institutional links between the nations. Each proposal must be supported by a UK, a US and an Indian institution and endorsed by the respective heads of department or their equivalent. All proposals will need to include details of additional contributions to be made by the three institutions involved.

Graduate employment

Stiff competition stiffer still

The number of graduates chasing every job offered by top employers in the UK has risen to more than 50, according to a report. The Graduate Market in 2012, published last week by High Fliers Research, says that applications for graduate posts at the UK's 100 leading employers starting in 2012 have risen by 19 per cent so far compared with 2011. Some firms have even reported double the usual volume of applicants in the early stages of their 2011-12 recruitment campaigns. The report also states that the number of vacancies for graduates will rise for the third year running in 2012 - up by 6.4 per cent on 2011 - but will remain 6 per cent below the pre-recession levels seen in 2007.


The claim by gay rights group Stonewall that there are almost no "visible gay role models" in higher education was challenged robustly on Twitter.

Kathleen Richardson, a researcher at University College London, writes: "I'm not sure what a 'gay role model' is. What are they meant to do? #universities good place to be gay."

David Smith, a professor at the University of York, agreed, but writes: "I would also add that effective gay role models in science academia are still very rare."

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