Friday, 14 August 2009

HE Scotland's Friday Round-Up (14/08/2009)

Notable stories appearing on the HE Scotland Twitter feed in the last seven days included...

In policy and funding news:

  • NUS Scotland published Overstretched and Overdrawn, a survey of 6,000 students focused on financial hardship. The study indicated that more than half of the students surveyed are in commercial debt, and two thirds are in debt to friends and family. It also found that more than half of the students surveyed were in work, with 70 per cent of these working more than the recommended 10 hours a week during term-time. In addition to attracting a variety of coverage, including that by the BBC and The Herald, the SNP issued a media release stating that the SNP Government's decision to abolish the graduate endowment had 'helped to reduce the debt burden of Scotland's students' with Aileen Campbell MSP claiming 'Scottish students were failed by the Labour and Lib Dem administration with a lack of financial support'. Labour opposition spokesperson, Claire Baker MSP, took rather a different view. She initially tweeted to say that the SNP needed to 'get their head out of the sand and take some action' on the issue and went on to brand the SNP's claims about restoring free education 'a joke'.
  • On Wednesday, Robert Gordon University announced it had signed a deal with Dundee College which will see students on a range of HND programmes at the College able to move straight into their third year of some RGU degree programmes.
  • On the same day, the University of the Highlands and Islands Millennium Institute's progress towards full university title was criticised with Inverness-based economist, Tony Mackay, calling for an inquiry into the lengthy process.
  • The Sutton Trust published a research report entitled Applications, Offers and Admissions to Research led Universities which suggested 'thousands of state school pupils shun top degree courses'. UCU took the view that the report revealed a 'poverty of ambition'. Whilst the Russell Group chose not to comment, Million+ took issue with the report's focus on just 13 research intensive universities, claiming the 'risk of this narrow approach is that the social mobility being achieved by the rest of the UK’s universities is ignored,' Widespread media coverage of the report included that by the BBC and The Mail.
  • There was mixed environmental news for institutions this week. Whilst with the University of St Andrews highlighted the eco-friendly credentials of its new medical school, Heriot Watt University found itself one of a number of UK universities to be criticised for carbon offsetting in an article by the Times Higher Education magazine.

In student news:

In research news:

  • University of Edinburgh research made a big splash, in the form of researchers' findings that facial symmetry offered clues to mental ability. Whilst this story received a good deal of coverage, including pieces in The Independent, the BBC and The Scotsman, it was perhaps surprising that an MRC media release detailing research elsewhere in Edinburgh on penis length wasn't picked up by many outlets.
  • By contrast, Glasgow and Aberdeen archaeologists' discovery of a significant Bronze Age tomb in Perthshire did receive widespread media coverage, including that in The Scotsman, The Times and the BBC.
  • The University of Glasgow also released news of the forthcoming publication of the Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary. Having been forty-five years in the making, one can only imagine the scenes over the years as successive RAE managers at the institution asked about the date of publication...
  • Meanwhile, Aberdeen University research indicating that gender plays an important role in angina was covered widely, including pieces by journalists from The Guardian and STV.
  • Elsewhere the University of Edinburgh's automaton computerised band 'Cybraphon' appeared to tickle journalists' fancy, with a feature in The Scotsman entitled 'Cybraphon: 'It's a total moody diva' being just one of many similar pieces.

As usual we finish with the best sector media release title of the week. This edition's award goes to this from Edinburgh Napier University:

But it would be impossible to finish without mentioning the following headline from The Scotsman:


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