News in brief

May 24, 2012

Graduate entrepreneurship

Enterprise flows

The government has announced that it will fund "milk round"-style job fairs where students and graduates can meet representatives from small and medium-sized enterprises and learn how to start their own businesses. The National Association of College and University Entrepreneurs has selected 20 student enterprise societies to hold fairs in their regions, providing £500 for each. Mark Prisk, the business and enterprise minister, said that the events would be a "great way for students to meet local businesses, build strong links and discover the opportunities available to them". The fairs are envisaged as an alternative to the already well-established milk round, where large companies visit universities to recruit students for graduate positions.

Study abroad

Shallow Erasmus pool

More than half the outgoing UK Erasmus students come from just 20 universities, most of which are Russell Group members. Nearly 13,000 students in the UK took part in Erasmus in 2010-11, according to latest figures, the highest number since the mobility scheme began in 1987. However, of 26 universities sending more than 200 students abroad, only eight are not members of the Russell Group. Of those, four are members of the 1994 Group and just two - Manchester Metropolitan University and the University of Portsmouth - are post-1992 institutions. Speaking at a reception in London to mark the scheme's 25th anniversary, Martin Davidson, chief executive of the British Council, which runs Erasmus in the UK, said it was vital to encourage more students from different backgrounds to access the scheme, which offers bursaries for work and study placements throughout Europe.


Services for sale

The University and College Union has condemned plans by the University of Sussex to "privatise" some 235 of the 2,200 jobs at the institution. Sussex proposes that private companies take over the management of its estates, facilities, catering and conference services from August 2013. A spokesman for the UCU said: "Selling off parts of an institution to private companies is not good for the institution and certainly not for the staff." In a statement, John Duffy, Sussex's registrar and secretary, says that the move is not about cutting workers but about providing for greater numbers of students in the future.

Climate change

Spice off the menu

A UK study testing the feasibility of a "geoengineering" technique designed to reduce the Earth's temperature under climate change conditions has been cancelled. The Stratospheric Particle Injection for Climate Engineering (Spice) experiment - a collaboration between researchers at the universities of Bristol, Cambridge, Edinburgh and Oxford - planned to use a balloon to disperse water 1km above the Earth as a prelude to dispersing aerosols that could reflect solar energy back into space. Last week, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, which funds the £1.6 million project with two other councils, pulled the trial on the recommendation of an independent advisory panel. The panel raised concerns about the lack of an international agreement governing geoengineering research and a potential conflict of interest after it emerged that a member of the Spice team held a patent in the technology.


There was plenty of reaction to the news that Queen Mary, University of London had warned one of its academics that he could face disciplinary proceedings after he wrote a letter criticising its redundancy plans. Felix Labinjo said that some universities "are behaving like limited liability companies whose reputation, even in the face of justifiable criticism...must be protected at all costs. What is their use of sledgehammer approaches in dealing with matters which would have, in days gone by, been dismissed as a joke...or treated as some minor infraction."

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