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Elizabeth Gibney
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Session 2: 'The practicalities of the global research university; harnessing the flow of people, ideas and reputation' Speakers for this session are Jeremy Watson, Director of Global Research at Arup and Chief Scientific Advisor, Department for Communities and Local Government; Professor Lawrence Cram, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the Australian National University; Professor Julia Lane, Program Director of Science of Science and Innovation Policy at he US National Science Foundation; and Professor Hagit Messer-Yaron, President of The Open University, Israel, and Israel’s former Chief Scientist. The session will be chaired by Research Europe editor Colin Macilwain. Please refresh for updates and read from the top. First up is Jeremy Watson, giving the industry perception of the globalisation of higher education. Engineering and design company, Arup, has research relationships all over the world, including with universities. Watson outlines the RCUK, Rolls Royce and... Continue reading
Posted Nov 9, 2011 at Research Blogs
Listening to Vince Cable at the Liberal Democrat conference yesterday morning sounded like listening to a man talking himself into something. Gone was the doom and gloom (or to be exact ‘grey skies’) of the previous day’s party conference speech: because this morning, he was talking about universities, and it was all ‘sunny uplands’. Reforms would be ultimately good, Cable told an early morning fringe event, attended by a mixture of university chiefs, think tankers and venture capitalists. The aim of change was not to make universities better serve business, but that would be a result. In the vein of the Dearing report, business would invest more in universities and students would think more carefully about what they studied. Universities would receive more money overall, not less, and the “Soviet” style system of allocating student numbers would be scrapped. On... Continue reading
Posted Sep 21, 2011 at Research Blogs
Elizabeth Gibney is now following Steve Potter
Jun 1, 2011
by Tania Rabesandratana Welcome to Research Europe's Framework and the Innovation Union live blog from The International Auditorium in Brussels. Our second session today is Carving up the Pie. Our speakers are Geoffrey Boulton, professor of geology and vice principal at the University of Edinburgh; Ben Butters, secretary general of Eurochambres; and Jerzy Langer, foreign secretary of Academia Europaea and former science vice minister in Poland. Please read from the bottom up. 13.27 We're now closing session 2. We'll come back for session 3, Making Framework Work, at 16.05. 13.25 An audience member is concerned that the focus on innovation threatens social sciences and humanities research. Geoff Boulton says that the Commission's approach that consists in pushing the science base and hoping to reap economic benefits isn't going to work. Social sciences and humanities are hugely important, also in terms... Continue reading
Posted Jun 1, 2011 at Research Blogs
Welcome to Research Europe's Framework and the Innovation Union live blog from The International Auditorium in Brussels. Our first session today is Policy Context - The Innovation Union. Our speakers are the director general of DG Research and Innovation at the European Commission, Robert-Jan Smits, Jan van den Biesen, vice president of public R&D Programmes at Philips Research and Theodore Papazoglou, Head of Unit A1, Support to the European Research Council. Their chairman is deputy secretary general of the European Universities Association, John Smith. Please read from the bottom up. 11.41 That's all for this session, we've just broken here for a coffee break. Thanks for followng the blog this morning and please rejoin us for the next session at 12pm which will be on Carving Up the Pie. 11.40 Papazoglou says the data question is not yet solved across... Continue reading
Posted Jun 1, 2011 at Research Blogs
Welcome to Research Fortnight's Cuts in Culture live blog from Bafta. Our second session today is Funding Innovation. Our speakers are the chairman of the Arts and Humanities Research Council and UCL professor, Alan Wilson, chief executive of Arts and Business, Colin Tweedy, and director of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, UK branch, Andrew Barnett. Their chairman is chief executive and secretary of the British Academy, Robin Jackson. News, instant analysis and comment on what was said. Read from the bottom up. That wraps up the debate from this morning's session. As we head off for more discussion over lunch, you can look forward to this afternoon's session on the Future of Research and Collaboration, from which Miriam Frankel will blog from 2.15pm. 13.09: Finally Wilson adds that for entrepreneurship we can look at the development of the Council's new Knowledge... Continue reading
Posted May 11, 2011 at Research Blogs
The UK Centre for Medical Research and Innovation has sealed its bid to become London’s scientific powerhouse by adding Imperial College London and King’s College London to its list of partners. The institutions have signed a memorandum of understanding that signals their intent to join University College London, previously the centre’s sole academic partner, alongside the Wellcome Trust, Cancer Research UK and the Medical Research Council. The UKCMRI, a charity, already has planning permission to build at a site behind the British Library in St Pancras, London. Imperial and KCL would almost match UCL’s contribution, which stands at £46 million. Each will contribute £40m to the centre’s start-up costs, bringing investment in the centre to £730m. In a statement, a UKCMRI spokesman said the additional funding would enable the centre to “do even more, more quickly than would otherwise have... Continue reading
Posted Apr 14, 2011 at Research Blogs
The president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science will focus on diversity in the sciences in an address to the association's annual conference later today. Speaking ahead of the event in Washington DC on 17 February, Alice Huang said that although overt discrimination for women in science was “pretty well gone”, attitudes remain which set the bar higher for women than men. Huang, a virologist at the California Institute of Technology, called the subconscious discrimination “human”, but something which activity was needed to counteract. She gave the example that female researchers in their 40s or 50s were more likely than men to be viewed as “too young” for a position by nomination or promotion panels, she said. Previously sure of the equal position of women in US society, she added that she had been shocked to see... Continue reading
Posted Feb 17, 2011 at Research Blogs
Philosophy, history and classics are more than the icing on academia’s cake, says Martha Nussbaum, professor of law and ethics at the University of Chicago. Elizabeth Gibney finds out why she believes we ignore them at our peril. In your book Not for Profit you argue that the world is in desperate need of the humanities—why? Humanities are needed for a stable and successful democracy. I think people forget that. There are three things that without humanities we couldn’t have: critical thought and the ability to distinguish between good and bad argument; a broader understanding of the world we live in; and imagination—seeing from a different perspective. Where does research come in? You’re not going to get first-rate people teaching if they’re not doing research. But also the research itself gives perspectives on world history and illuminates how to face... Continue reading
Posted Feb 15, 2011 at Research Blogs
The Higher Education Funding Council for England plans to reduce the number of institutions that receive support from the Higher Education Innovation Fund. Under plans announced on 1 February universities will have to qualify to receive £250,000 or more from HEIF to receive anything at all. A maximum cap on funding to any institute will also be fixed at £2.85m. The council also plans to change the formula it uses to allocate funding. Allocations will be based solely on previous performance in deriving income from contract research, consultancy, external courses, intellectual property and Knowledge Transfer Partnerships. Hefce will no longer take into account the number of academic staff. The number of staff was previously used as a measure of a university’s potential to grow its knowledge exchange acitivites. By removing it Hefce signals that it will no longer use HEIF... Continue reading
Posted Feb 2, 2011 at Research Blogs
Why there are so few women in science? Or to be more precise, why are there so few women in the physical sciences, and so few at the top of any field? While the situation is nowhere near as bad as it used to be, backward attitudes toward female scientists remain. As an undergraduate not long ago, it was just accepted that one physics tutor viewed women as inferior at the subject. Later, working at the European Laboratory for Particle Physics, Cern, I was frequently mistaken for someone who might like to do the photocopying. At a packed evening at the Wellcome Collection on 13 January, hosted by the Times Eureka magazine (and ex-Research Fortnight) reporter Hannah Devlin, three professors attempted to dissect the problem. After wading through a quagmire of statistics, what it seemed to boil down to was,... Continue reading
Posted Jan 17, 2011 at Research Blogs
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The UK lacks a research strategy for meeting the targets set out in the 2008 Climate Change Act, according to a new report from Research Fortnight. The Act requires an 80 per cent cut in CO2 emissions from 1990 levels to be made before 2050. But the report, which looked at research programmes across government, found there is no coordinated strategy on how to gain the knowledge needed to meet the requirements. The lack of a strategy leaves the government open to duplication of research and missing out on the studies needed to meet targets, the report suggests. Financing Climate Research: A guide for UK researchers and policymakers, published on 15 September, was compiled by a team of writers and researchers led by the publication’s comment and analysis editor John Dwyer. The report finds there is no agreed figure for... Continue reading
Posted Sep 15, 2010 at Research Blogs
Liberal Democrat peer Phil Willis, former head of the Commons Science and Technology Committee, has condemned government plans to merge the research regulation functions of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority and the Human Tissue Authority. The Department of Health said on 26 July that the coalition intends to abolish the agencies and create a single body for medical research regulation, also absorbing the National Research Ethics Service. The Care Quality Commission and the Information Centre for Health and Social would take on other functions of the agencies. Tory health secretary Andrew Lansley said that, subject to Parliamentary approval, eight or ten of his department’s 18 ‘arm’s-length bodies’ would be cut, saving more than £180 million by 2014-15. But a joint Lords and Commons committee on the Human Tissue and Embryos Bill, chaired by Willis, has already considered and rejected... Continue reading
Posted Jul 28, 2010 at Research Blogs
Cost and traditional rivalry means US unlikely to be full member The council of the European particle physics laboratory, Cern, has voted to allow any country in the world to apply for full membership, consolidating its status as the leading international facility of its kind.Cyprus, Israel, Serbia, Slovenia and Turkey have applied to become full members. But a 390-million euro price tag is likely to deter the US from coming aboard. Until now ‘full’ membership of Cern has been limited to European countries. The US, Russia and Japan have ‘observer’ status, which allows them to construct and run experiments, and attend—but not vote at—council meetings. In an effort to recognise “increasing globalization in particle physics,” the council ruled on 18 June to allow non-European members to join and also replaced observer status with a new category of associate member, costing... Continue reading
Posted Jul 7, 2010 at Research Blogs
The Higher Education Funding Council for Wales has said that there are too many universities in Wales for “optimal effectiveness” and that it wants to see substantially fewer. Welsh Assembly education secretary Leighton Andrews said some institutions are too small to “cut a mark internationally” and in danger of wasting resources by competing with neighbours. The announcement came as part of the council’s strategy for 2010 to 2013, released on 29 June, which was produced in response to the Assembly Government’s plan for higher education. Andrews said that under the strategy HEFCW would ensure the proportion of institutions in Wales with annual income above the UK median would rise from 36 per cent to 75 per cent, and with none in the lower quartile. “This target does not mean fewer students,” he said in a statement. “But it is likely... Continue reading
Posted Jun 30, 2010 at Research Blogs
Parliament’s most prominent campaigner on science issues, Liberal Democrat Evan Harris, has blamed his election defeat on a smear campaign by right-wing Christians and animal-rights extremists. The Animal Protection Party and local Christians led by Anglican vicar Lynda Rose, distributed around 10,000 leaflets each, attacking Harris for his support for animal research and supposed anti-religious views. Harris lost by 176 votes to Conservative newcomer Nicola Blackwood in Oxford West and Abingdon. He previously held the seat with a 7,683-vote majority. But boundary changes added villages from David Cameron’s Witney constituency and switched some university areas to Oxford East, says Reg Little of The Oxford Times. “We always treat the seat as marginal, it was made more so by boundary changes,” Harris told Research Fortnight. “Was the whole swing due to these leaflets? Probably not. Was the fraction of swing that... Continue reading
Posted May 19, 2010 at Research Blogs
David Willetts, previously the Conservative shadow higher education minister, has been named as minister for universities and science. He will work within the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills, under Vince Cable, the Liberal Democrat business secretary. Willetts has been given the rank of Minister of State. He is not a Cabinet minister but the Cabinet Office says he will attend Cabinet meetings. Former science minister, Paul Drayson, also attended in this capacity, but held an additional place on Privy Council, which Willetts will not. Willetts has previously said he would like to delay the Research Assessment Exercise by up to two years and look again at the importance attached by the Labour government to assessing the impact of research in the exercise. Continue reading
Posted May 13, 2010 at Research Blogs
Vince Cable, the former Liberal Democrat shadow chancellor, has been named as business, innovation and skills secretary in the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition formed on 12 May. However it remains unclear whether science and higher education will remain under the business banner in the new administration. Prime minister David Cameron also confirmed Conservative MP and former shadow schools secretary Michael Gove as education secretary. This is a change from the previous government’s portfolio of children, schools and families, which suggests higher education could be moved out of BIS to the education department. At the time of going to press, no science minister has been announced.* The BBC reports that ministerial positions will likely be announced tomorrow. Whether a science minister would remain at the cabinet level is the critical issue for science, Hilary Leevers, assistant director of the Campaign for Science... Continue reading
Posted May 12, 2010 at Research Blogs
by Ehsan Masood The defeat of science stalwart Evan Harris is the big news so far for the research community from the 2010 UK general election. In a cliff-hanger of a count, it emerged that Evan lost by just 176 votes to Conservative rival Nicola Blackwood in the Abingdon and Oxford West constituency. Along with the retirement of fellow Lib Dem MP Phil Willis, whatever happens in the next few hours, science in the new parliament will have lost two of its biggest champions. Speaking to the BBC’s Jeremy Paxman, Evan said that the result did come as a surprise. “A week ago, I did not expect to lose.” Elsewhere, it was a better night for environmentalists. Caroline Lucas becomes Britain’s first Green Party member of Parliament, capping Green party representation in the Scottish Parliament and the London assembly. Millionaire... Continue reading
Posted May 6, 2010 at Research Blogs
Labour’s claims to hold science at the heart of government have been somewhat undermined by the disappearance of the science minister in the run up to the election. Not only did business minister Pat McFadden stand in to respond to the Guardian’s queries on science but Drayson wasn’t around to speak to Research Fortnight, nor anyone else, about the science manifesto that he himself wrote. Nor did he answer questions posted via Twitter, on which the minister is usually quite prolific. Meanwhile, the party’s press office wasn’t able to help because the document was “too specialist”. Is the game already up? Is Drayson looking forward to spending more time on the racetrack? Perhaps it should serve as a hint that, at the time of going to press, Drayson’s last known whereabouts were at a motorsport conference in California two weeks... Continue reading
Posted May 4, 2010 at Research Blogs
Corporations more willing to share intellectual property [Cover story from 21 April 2010 issue of Research Fortnight] The World Intellectual Property Organization is preparing a scheme in which corporations would give free access to IP to the poorest developing countries, its director general Francis Gurry has announced. Speaking at the Spanish EU Presidency’s Science Against Poverty conference in Segovia on 8 April, Gurry said the Global Responsibility Licensing initiative would allow companies to issue free licences in food security, health and environment technologies. “Essentially, voluntarily a corporation would agree to make available free of charge its technologies where they have no market—usually a humanitarian situation or where there are no consumers,” said Gurry at the conference. WIPO will launch the initiative formally at the World Economic Forum at the Swiss ski resort Davos in January 2011. The scheme was devised... Continue reading
Posted Apr 22, 2010 at Research Blogs
Despite false starts and warm ups, the LHC, a project that began more than 20 years ago, has finally begun to take and analyse data and the champagne is flowing in celebration. The experiments in the more than £6 billion project, based at the European Laboratory for Particle Physics, CERN, saw collisions at a record energy of 7 tera electron volts (TeV) at 1pm today. In a “gentlemen’s draw” all four experiments appeared to see the particles smashing together and flying out into the detectors at the same time, as the magnets brought the beams together to collide. Physicists were primed for action from 4am this morning, but the sensitive safety systems, installed in the wake of the machine’s breakdown in 2008, twice aborted the attempt and reset the system before collisions could get underway. But finally, the moment of... Continue reading
Posted Mar 30, 2010 at Research Blogs
Research funding may not be protected from cuts under a Conservative government, judging by comments made by shadow universities secretary David Willetts this week. So far, the government’s cuts to higher education have mainly fallen on capital budgets and the teaching block grant. Willetts, at the Times Higher Education Pre-election Debate in London on 24 February, said teaching and research funding needed to be rebalanced with a greater focus on the student experience. Higher education minister David Lammy and Liberal Democrat shadow universities secretary Stephen Williams joined him to lay out how each party would maintain the UK’s strengths in teaching and research. To an audience filled with students all three MPs professed their backing for raising standards in education, increasing information available to students and raising the profile of teaching to be respected on par with research. Willetts said... Continue reading
Posted Feb 26, 2010 at Research Blogs
Science has advanced human knowledge more in the last 50 years than in all our previous history; but that’s why people are scared of it, former government chief scientific adviser Bob May told an audience at the inaugural Howard Dalton memorial lecture in London last night. Scientific and technological advancements have led to huge leaps in life expectancy and quality of life - making today the “best of times”, said May. But population growth, the loss of biodiversity and onset of climate change may well lead the future to be “the worst of times”, he added. May wasn’t trying to predict doomsday. He was trying to explain why the public, rightly, has concerns as well as excitement about the advances of science, and why we need to listen to everyone in making policy decisions. Policymakers have a critical role to... Continue reading
Posted Feb 17, 2010 at Research Blogs
The European Patent Organisation has for the third time failed to elect a replacement for outgoing president, Alison Brimelow. Despite the repeated failures, and the looming date of Brimelow’s departure, the EPO’s administrative council insists the next vote, to be held on 1 March, will use the same procedures and with the same pool of candidates. Three candidates are still vying for the role: Susanne As Sivborg, director general of the Swedish Patent Office, Benoît Battistelli, director general of the French National Institute of Industrial Property and Roland Grossenbacher, director of the Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property. Sivborg won a majority in the first vote in October, but not the 75 per cent of votes needed to win. The tables then turned in December when Battistelli had the majority of the 36 national patent offices behind him, but again... Continue reading
Posted Feb 3, 2010 at Research Blogs