News in brief

July 19, 2012

University qualifications

Sums rise in the East

By 2020 more than four in 10 young graduates in countries that are members of either the G20 or the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development will be Indian or Chinese, according to a report. The OECD report, which is part of its Education Indicators in Focus series, says that in 2010, China's share of this pool of graduates was 18 per cent, but by 2020 it will have grown to 29 per cent. India's share will expand only slightly from 2010 to 2020, from 11 to 12 per cent, and the US' proportion will fall from 14 to 11 per cent. The UK's share will increase from 3 to 4 per cent, the report predicts. There will also be significant falls over this period in the proportion of graduates from Japan (from 7 to 4 per cent) and the Russian Federation (from 11 to 7 per cent).

Peer review

REF, give us a hand

Peer-reviewing will become a "marginal activity" that is "inconsistent and shoddy" unless it is recognised by the research excellence framework, a network of early career researchers has warned. In an open letter to Sir Alan Langlands, the chief executive of the Higher Education Funding Council for England, the Voice of Young Science network estimates that researchers spend 72 hours a year reviewing papers. But "as researchers at an early stage of our careers, we are under increasing pressure to secure grant funding and publish research in order to make a contribution to our fields that will in the future be recognised in the REF". The letter does not make any suggestions about how the REF could recognise reviewing, but it says that some form of recognition would "ensure that reviewing is approached professionally and seriously, enabling senior researchers to spend time mentoring early career researchers like ourselves in these activities".

Academy of Social Sciences

Warm welcome for like minds

The Academy of Social Sciences (AcSS) has welcomed its first member organisation from outside the UK: the European Academy of Management (EURAM). As "the voice of the social sciences in the UK", the AcSS has 850 individual academic members and 44 learned societies (representing 87,000 people) as corporate members. According to its chair, Cary Cooper, it now plans "to build a network of learned societies from around the world, but most especially in Europe, where we have a particular commonality of interest". EURAM is a major international community of management scholars, based in Brussels, with 100 registered members in the UK and more than 700 across the rest of the world.

Animals in research

More creatures feature

The number of scientific procedures carried out on animals in the UK rose by 2 per cent last year, Home Office figures show. In 2011, 3.79 million experiments were carried out on animals - 68,100 more than in 2010. This follows a rise of 3 per cent in the previous year and continues an upward trend that began in 2000. The big rise was in the use of fish. The number of experiments involving them increased by 72,959, or 15 per cent, said Judy MacArthur Clarke, head of the Animals in Science Regulation Unit within the Home Office. At a briefing in London, she said the rise in the use of fish reflected efforts to carry out research on animals with lower brain sensitivity.


Last week's report on a £75 million donation by alumnus Michael Moritz to the University of Oxford to support its poorest undergraduates led to debate in our comments section. One reader writes that while any such donation "should be applauded", the money would have a "minimal impact" for "already vastly wealthy" Oxford. "A similar gift to almost any other university could be truly 'transformative'. [The donation] will also do little for social mobility as any students with [an] Oxford offer [are] likely to do well in life...All [it] does is give another competitive advantage to an elite university."

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