Today's news

March 23, 2006

Deadlock as bosses issue talks ultimatum
Higher education faced a long and increasingly bitter battle over pay this week as unions and employers hit deadlock over negotiations. Geoffrey Copland, chairman of the Universities and Colleges Employers' Association and vice-chancellor of Westminster University, wrote to the unions to say there could be no talks until they halted their industrial action. The Association of University Teachers and Natfhe refused to do so and claimed that they had been barred from the first official negotiating meeting with employers, scheduled for March 28. Employers, represented by Ucea, had originally said they would make a pay offer at the meeting.
The Times Higher Education Supplement (Mar 24), The Guardian

Research exercise to be scrapped
A unique British institution was sentenced to the axe yesterday - though few in the Commons or outside realised it from Gordon Brown's rapid-fire delivery. The research assessment exercise - a gargantuan exercise in which every active researcher in every university in the UK is painstakingly assessed by panels of other academics - is to go. The next RAE in 2008 will be the last as part of the chancellor's attempt to "radically simplify" the method of distributing research funding to universities.
The Guardian, The Times Higher Education Supplement (Mar 24)

Cash dilemma for universities
Universities were last night urged to spend some of the millions of pounds earmarked to improve their buildings on boosting lecturers' pay. Union leaders spoke out after it emerged that the higher education sector is to receive only an extra 1 per cent in funding to put towards improving the salaries of academic staff. The Association of University Teachers is demanding its members' pay be increased by about 20 per cent over the next three years and has begun industrial action. State funding for universities will top £1 billion for the first time in 2006-7 and the Scottish Funding Council yesterday detailed how that money would be distributed among universities.
The Scotsman

Funding aims to keep Scottish universities competitive
Scottish universities will share £962 million for teaching and research in the coming academic year, the Scottish Further and Higher Education Funding Council announced today. The Scottish Executive is seeking to keep universities competitive with England, where institutions are due for a large infusion of cash from the introduction in September of tuition fees of up to £3,000 a year. Scotland has resisted variable fees, although graduates pay a £2,000 contribution after finishing their degrees. Twenty Scottish institutions will receive £634 million for teaching, £244 million for research and £37 million for improvement and infrastructure, including computer networks.
The Guardian

Partnerships aim to attract non-EU students
Russia, India and South Africa are being encouraged to send more students to British universities. After warnings from vice-chancellors that the number of foreign students coming from outside the European Union is falling, the chancellor, Gordon Brown used his budget speech yesterday to announce measures to prop up the lucrative trade in degrees. Non-EU foreign students can be charged unregulated tuition fees and have become a crucial source of revenue for higher education institutions. "With the aim of trebling our education exports, soon £50 billion of our economy, we are signing new education partnerships with India, Russia and South Africa as well as China," Mr Brown said.
The Financial Times

Science societies get funding boost
The societies tasked with promoting the struggling disciplines of chemistry and physics will be given a £5 million funding boost ahead of an emergency Commons inquiry into the closure of the chemistry department at the University of Sussex. The funding council Hefce today announced it would give money to the Royal Society of Chemistry and the Institute of Physics to back initiatives to increase the number of students studying life sciences at university.
The Guardian

Best and brightest science students to go stateside
Gordon Brown’s love of the enterprise culture in US universities has resulted in a scholarship scheme to send the brightest and best British science students to study on American campuses. In September 2006 a score of undergraduates in science, engineering and technology will be funded to visit entrepreneurial businesses in the US, often university spin-offs, to learn how to create business the American way. The scheme is being administered in the UK by the National Council for Entrepreneurship, in Birmingham, and in the US by the Ewing Marion Kaufmann Foundation, which fosters entrepreneurship in American universities.
The Financial Times

Letter
From vice-chancellor of Monash University, Australia, describing the university's approach to education.
The Independent

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