News in brief

June 7, 2012

Postgraduate employment

High marks pay off for physicists

Graduate earnings depend more on degree class than on the institution attended - at least in physics. This is one of the conclusions of a report by the Institute of Physics that tracks physics graduates' career destinations. The data, gathered between 2006 and 2010 from almost 6,000 graduates, show that just over half go on to further study, but those who enter employment earn an annual salary of around £22,500 12 months after graduation, some £3,000 more than the average graduate starting salary in 2008. Those with higher degree classes earn higher salaries and those with firsts and 2:1s are most likely to be working in the financial sector. Unemployment rates are also relatively low among physics graduates, and the differential between their employment levels and the average for all graduates has grown during the economic downturn.

Scotland

Four into one will go far

The Scottish Agricultural College will merge with three other institutions to create Scotland's first university college. Oatridge, Elmwood and Barony colleges, which offer subjects including agricultural, golf and countryside management, will join forces with it in August. Initially the merged institution will be known as the SRUC, but it hopes to change its name to Scotland's Rural University College in 12 to 18 months, once it has gained university college status. The institutions said the merger would "combine and enhance" their "valued strengths". Andy Robb, chairman of the board overseeing the merger, said students would have "comprehensive and integrated expertise available to them for the full range of skills, training, education, research and business support".

Research career development

Fiscal lease of life for Vitae

Vitae, the body that promotes career development among research students and staff, has had its funding renewed by Research Councils UK and the Higher Education Funding Council for England. It was launched in 2008 alongside the landmark Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers. Funding was due to run out at the end of 2012, but the organisation will now be supported until the end of the Comprehensive Spending Review period in March 2015 to allow it to develop a self-funding model. The announcement was made last week by David Willetts, the universities and science minister, at an RCUK conference.

Overseas student visas

Great and good take PM to task

University chancellors and heads of governing councils have written to the prime minister backing calls for international students to be removed from net migration statistics. The letter is signed by almost 70 business leaders, peers from all the major parties and other prominent figures. Signatories include writer and broadcaster Lord Bragg, who is chancellor of the University of Leeds; the former director general of the CBI, Sir Richard Lambert, who is chancellor of the University of Warwick; and actor Sir Patrick Stewart, chancellor of the University of Huddersfield. It follows concerns that tougher student visa rules have made UK institutions less attractive to overseas applicants.

Correction

A graph on page 9 of last week's issue incorrectly displayed the total income from universities' business and community interaction as £26 billion. This should have been £2.6 billion.

ONLINE NOW

Responding to last week's online story about former Labour minister Alan Milburn's report on social mobility and the professions, one reader said that it would be "hugely unrealistic" to suggest that anyone could become, for instance, a barrister. "Firstly, not everyone is suited on a personal level to that profession, nor even to going to university full stop. Secondly, whatever one's academic background, it takes someone of an extremely high calibre to be called to the Bar, and if Mr Milburn thinks that any institution can offer the level of education required to practise as a barrister, he's very much mistaken."

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