News in brief

March 15, 2012

Knowledge transfer

Need for IP speed

Thirteen of the UK's "most innovative" universities have been awarded more than £750,000 to help ease their intellectual property's transition from the academy to the market. Baroness Wilcox, intellectual property minister, made the awards to projects in areas such as healthcare, computer games design, intellectual property valuation and social enterprise. The awards included £80,000 for the University of the West of England's Bloodhound@University initiative, part of the 1,000mph Bloodhound project that is aiming to break the world land speed record. Bloodhound@University makes available to staff and students at universities across the UK the IP generated from the innovative design and engineering related to the project for teaching and other activities.

Tuition fees

2013 education at 2012 prices

The maximum tuition fee that can be charged by universities in England has been frozen at £9,000 for the 2013-14 academic year, the government has announced. Unveiling the student finance arrangements for the second year of the higher fees regime, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said that loans for fees and living costs would also be frozen at 2012-13 levels. The cap means that universities charging the maximum figure in 2012-13 will not be able to increase their charges in line with inflation, which was running at 3.6 per cent in January, forcing them to absorb rising costs in their budgets. The freeze signals a departure from previous years when the top-up fee cap rose steadily (from £3,000 in 2005 to this year's maximum figure of £3,375).

Graduate employment

More McJobs on the menu

More than one in three recent graduates are working in low-skilled jobs compared with about one in four a decade ago, according to data from the Office for National Statistics. Between 2001 and the final quarter of 2011, the proportion of people working in low-skilled jobs who had graduated in the previous six years increased from 26.7 per cent to 35.9 per cent. Over the same period, the number of graduates in the labour market and no longer in education increased from 1,063,000 to 1,501,000. The ONS data also show that the average hourly wage for graduates was £15.18 in 2011, 70 per cent higher than the figure for non-graduates. Arts graduates earned the least per hour on average (£12.06), while those with medicine and dentistry degrees earned the most (£21.29).

Fair access

Just what the doctor ordered

A letter written by one of the pioneers of the fight for female participation in higher education has been discovered by a PhD student. Written in 1873 by Sophia Jex-Blake, a campaigner for the admittance of women to British universities who eventually became the third registered female doctor in the country, the letter asks the University of St Andrews to allow women to study medicine at the institution. Lis Smith, a doctoral student at St Andrews' Institute of Scottish Historical Research, said she was "astounded" to uncover the letter in the university archives. The missive was signed by Ms Jex-Blake and 10 other campaigners for female admittance to university. Several were also fighting for female suffrage. Dr Jex-Blake went on to help establish the London School of Medicine for Women in 1874.

ONLINE NOW

A report about the number of managers in higher education rising at a faster rate than the increase in academic recruitment over the past few years provoked a strong response on the website. One reader claimed that the Quality Assurance Agency was the "only" justification "for all these bureaucrats" being employed in the sector. "There is a golden rule: employ one central government bureaucrat at the QAA and that creates the need for hundreds of new managers in the universities up and down the country," the reader claimed.

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