Policy watch

January 24, 2008

LIFELONG LEARNING

Denham lauds 'informal' study

The Government has launched a consultation on "informal" adult learning that is not designed to lead to a formal qualification. John Denham, the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills, said that although it was right for the Government to prioritise "formal" education to enable people to develop skills and to improve career prospects, informal adult learning also had a vital role in shaping the country.

He said: "Some courses are still taught in a classroom at a fixed time - an approach that would have been clearly recognised 100 years ago. But adult learning may be as easily stimulated by a television programme that prompts a trip to a local museum or an internet search that leads to a group of like-minded learners ...

"Much of the innovation in this sector in the early 21st century has been driven and achieved by learners themselves ... not relying on support from local or national Government to organise activities, but seeking out fellow enthusiasts through online communities and other channels."

- See: www.dius.gov.uk/publications/DIUS_adu_lea_bro_an_05%208.pdf

ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES

UUK highlights green agenda

Universities' part in tackling climate change is outlined in a new report celebrating their successes. Greening Spires - Universities and the Green Agenda, published by Universities UK this week, highlights the role that institutions are playing in monitoring climate change, researching solutions, tackling their own impact on the environment and collaborating with other organisations.

Rick Trainor, president of UUK, said: "If universities ever presented 'dreaming spires', that somnolence has long gone - I prefer the description 'greening spires' ... Universities' research and the extensive links they are forging with industry, as well as their international collaborations, signal their leading role in the global search for solutions to environmental problems."

- See: www.universitiesuk.ac.uk

DIUS SCIENCE AND INNOVATION STRATEGY

Sainsbury plans to be launched

The Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills is seeking contributions for a new science and innovation strategy with an initial call for ideas open until the end of the month. The strategy, which is to be published in spring, will set out a "clear vision and direction for science and innovation policy". It will include an implementation plan for the Sainsbury review, The Race to the Top, which was published last October.

- For further details of the consultation workshops, and to contribute online, see: http://dius.dialoguebydesign.net/

EMBRYOLOGY RESEARCH

Human-animal study approved

Scientists have been given the go-ahead by regulators to create human-animal embryos for research. The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority last week offered one-year licences, with conditions attached, to two groups at King's College London and Newcastle University to carry out work in the controversial area. The decision came in the wake of the House of Lords vote in favour of creating animal-human embryos within the framework of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill, which aims to update existing legislation. The House rejected amendments to ban the research.

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