News in brief

August 2, 2012

Financial support

Don't pay off loans, buy a house

Parents who help fund their children's degree rather than encouraging use of the student loan could be missing an opportunity to give other, more valuable financial help to their children, according to a report into the wealth of young adults. Graduates surveyed for the report by the investment specialists Skandia listed their top three financial concerns as paying bills, buying a house and saving and budgeting. Graham Bentley, head of investment strategy at Skandia UK, said that rather than paying off loans "parents who want to provide their children with a solid financial start in life might be better off encouraging use of the student loan and diverting their funds towards a deposit on a property or providing a lump sum to ease the pressure on the transition into independence".

Freedom of Information

Call to exempt unpublished data

A cross-party group of MPs has recommended a change in the law to prevent unpublished research data being released under the Freedom of Information Act. The Justice Committee said that the exemption should be introduced to "protect ongoing research" in its report Post-legislative Scrutiny of the Freedom of Information Act 2000. Universities UK has been campaigning for such a change to the act, arguing that current legislation could be misused by researchers seeking to "scoop" pre-publication data; by businesses seeking access to research before patents are taken out; or by members of the public who might misinterpret data before it is analysed and peer-reviewed. The select committee's report also says that universities should remain subject to FoI, despite lobbying to the contrary from some institutions.

National Teaching Fellowships

Academy awards in pedagogy

Outstanding lecturers and learning support staff within higher education have been recognised by the sector. Fifty-five individuals have been awarded a National Teaching Fellowship by the Higher Education Academy, which supports excellence in teaching. Each winner will receive £10,000 to put towards continued professional development in teaching and learning or other aspects of pedagogy. More than 180 academics from England, Wales and Northern Ireland were nominated for the sector's most prestigious teaching prize. One of the new fellows is Brendan Stone, of the School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics at the University of Sheffield, who left school at the age of 16 with few qualifications and returned to education in his mid-thirties on a university access course.

Research publishing

Access all areas

The Department for International Development is to require all research it funds to be made freely available online. The department, whose spending on research is set to rise to £320 million a year by 2014-15, will require all research papers produced with its funding to be published in open-access journals "whenever possible". The cost of article fees will be included in project budgets. If a journal does not offer an open-access option, papers should be archived in DfID's open-access repository, R4D, within six months of publication. Authors are also encouraged to use licences that permit the free reuse of research. The policy is similar to that of Research Councils UK, which announced a new open-access policy last month after the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills backed the Finch report's call for the UK academy to move towards author-pays open-access publishing.

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