News in brief

July 5, 2012


Independently minded

University admissions officers are most impressed by applicants who demonstrate a desire to study independently, a poll has found. Almost half of the admissions officers (49 per cent) surveyed for a report on behalf of the ACS International Schools group of private schools said that "independent enquiry" was the most prized quality when assessing applicants' personal statements. Only 22 per cent listed "in-depth subject expertise" as the most-valued quality outside examination performance, the report adds. The research also reveals that 26 per cent of admissions officers are looking at more contextual data, including applicants' social class.

Going Global

How knowledgeable

The British Council's next Going Global summit will focus on universities' role in the global knowledge economy. The conference will be held in Dubai (the first time it has been hosted in the Middle East) on 4-6 March 2013. Pat Killingley, the council's director of higher education, said: "We want this conference to focus on the hugely important roles that universities and colleges are increasingly playing in building knowledge economies across the world." The body has called for proposals on three themes: research and innovation; the role of international collaboration; and developing skilled knowledge workers.


Mine, all mine? Not yet

The government should resist changing copyright law to allow free data and text "mining" in research papers, a cross-party group of MPs has said. In a report published on June, the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee says that co-operative licensing models between institutions should be examined before any wholesale copyright exception is implemented. The document is part of the committee's inquiry into Digital Opportunity: A Review of Intellectual Property and Growth, the final report of an independent review led by Ian Hargreaves, professor of digital economy at the Cardiff School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies and a former editor of The Independent. The review, published in May 2011, recommended that the government extend an exception for non-commercial research in copyright law to allow content mining, a research technique in which software sifts through existing research to identify associations and trends.

Research grants

Firms, access the Eurobillions

Making Scottish businesses aware that they can access European Union research grants is a "priority", according to a Scottish Parliament committee. A report published by the European and External Relations Committee on 28 June says that just 13.5 per cent of Scottish businesses participated in EU grant schemes against a target of 15 per cent. This contrasts with Scottish universities, which have been more successful in accessing European money. Christina McKelvie, MSP for Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse and the committee's convenor, said it was determined "to do all we can" to help businesses apply for the European Commission's next programme of funding, Horizon 2020.


In last week's Appointments, we incorrectly stated that Astrid Wissenburg was joining The Open University as pro vice-chancellor for research, scholarship and quality. She will in fact be heading the office of the pro vice-chancellor.


Last week, Times Higher Education reported that the University of Gloucestershire is well short of its recruitment target for undergraduates next year. The story led to a flurry of comments online. One reader suggested that post-1992 universities would struggle "given the changed HE landscape". The poster added: "Personally, I believe that we in the post-92s are looking at a massive reorganisation of our sector, some time in late 2013 or early 2014. I brace myself for mergers and rationalisation."

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