Friday, 30 April 2010

2010 Election: Party Science & Research policies in a nutshell

I just came upon quite a nice little summary by Zoe Corbyn on the science policies of the three competing parties, in this week's THE. Since STEM subjects are so high up in current employability and skills discourse, it is interesting to see how all three policies converge: the end is the same and remains a priority (scientific innovation), but they may want to use different means to achieve it (differences in the role of the state in the production of scientific knowledge or different budgetary provisions for research/ skills development). Here's a few interesting snippets:

  • The Science ring-fence: Both Labour and the Lib Dems promise a ring-fenced science budget to cover the Next Comprehensive Spending Review. The Tories commit to a "multi-year science and research budget", but avoid referring to a ring-fence. Both the Lib Dems and Labour say they have no plans to cut the current science funding for 2010-11

  • Research impact: The Tories promise to postpone the research excellence framework by up to two years because of concerns over how to measure impact. The Lib Dems want to reform the research council's use of potential impact to determine funding (ie it should not determine outcomes). Labour's plans to include impact in the REF remain intact.

  • Innovation, the knowledge economy, and wealth: Labour and the Conservatives make the strongest pledges. Both want more UK research to be translated into UK products, and both startegically focus on the key sectors. The Tories pledge to establish "joint university-business researcha nd development institutes". Labour plans to develop Technology and Innovation Centres and to set up a £35 million University Enterprise Capital Fund to improve early stage commercialisation. The Lib Dems haven't quite set out such strategic plans, and say that they will review ways of encouraging more private investment in research and development.

  • Directing Research: The governemnt's role in directing research council funding at the macro level (eg. to meet big scientific challenges) is stressed by both the Conservatives and the Lib Dems. The Tories would also work with scientists on a clearer definition of the so -called Haldane principle (it states that politicians shouldn't interfere unduly in how the research councils spend their money). Labour says it respects the principle and will continue to support curiosity-driven research. The Tories also stress that scientific research must progress within boundaries set by Parliament, and also pledge to reduce the use of animals in research.
  • Scientific advice to government: The Lib Dems make the strongest commitments in this area. Critisizing Labour's Principles of Scientific Advice, they promise to return to an earlier set of principles drawn up by scientists. The party also says it will consult on whether the office of the government's chief scientific adviser should be moved to the Cabinet Office, and that it will also appoint a chief scientific adviser to the Treasury.
  • Libel law reform and open access: All three parties commit to reforming England's libel laws, but the Lib Dems in particular highlight the problems faced by scientists, stressing the need to "protect peer reviewed researchfrom libel suits". The party also seeks to make open access an election issue, saying it would ensure that all state funded research papers are made publicaly available.
  • Encouraging female and young researchers: The Lib Dems say they would explore how to deal with a dearth of postdoctoral places for young researchers. They also recognise the problem of the gender gap in science and engineering, pledging to introduce "exit interviews" for everyone leaving publicaly funded research posts to gather "clear data on reasons for departure".
  • Protecting university science departments: The Lib Dems pledge to explore ways of rejiggling the system to stop science departments closing due to a shortage of students, and say they would "work to tackle the crisis in UK physics". All parties stress the importance of getting more science teachers into schools and encouraging pupils to take science subjects.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

New GMT Editor

Hi all,

Just to let you know that, henceforth, I will be the new Graduate Market Trends Editor, so please direct any GMT queries/ comments/ article suggestions/ abuse to me....

Just for the record...I am already excited about the next GMT themed, bumper Summer 20101 issue on graduate work experience: featuring exotic guests and much much more to excite each and every one of you. Mid-July is the publication date. I am on it as we speak.


Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Spring Graduate Market Trends is out

New Look spring edition of Graduate Market Trends is out this week

Highlights of GMT Spring 2010:

  • Recruitment of ‘generation crunch’ – explores the demand for graduates by SMEs and finds that there is a lack of understanding of what a “graduate” actually is.
  • Employer concepts of graduate employability – employer perceptions of graduates and the skills they value, surprising results include the importance placed by employers on cultural and social awareness.
  • Portfolio careers - Dr Barrie Hopson takes a look at this growing career pattern and considers what the so-called Generation Y wants from a job.
  • Graduate retention and migration in the West of England – examines the movement of graduates and finds the majority of those employed six months after graduating had no prior connection with the area.

The online version of GMT has more articles, one exploring the theme of higher education and the knowledge economy and another article presenting graduate’s experiences of networking as part of their job seeking activities. Please do sign up for the electronic newsletter where you can access the complete GMT.

To subscribe to the Graduate Market Trend e-newsletter simply click the link below

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Spring, and the postgraduates get some attention

Is this thing on?

Er, yes, sorry about the update regularity, we've been a bit busy. Here is some indication of what we've been up to.

The Smith Review of Postgraduate Education (warning - pdf) has just been released, examining the issues around postgraduate education in the UK - the value to society and the economy, barriers to study and international competitiveness.

This is an interesting, if lengthy, read and anyone interested in discussion of fees may be disappointed to see that the Review has had trouble finding good evidence on the issue.

But what may be of more direct interest are some of the reports that have come out as a result of submissions to the Review. We're still finishing ours (...yes, I know...), but a particularly pertinent one is this from the always-interesting Council for Industry in Higher Education (CIHE).

The report, 'Talent Fishing: What Businesses Want From Postgraduates' is the result of a survey of HR professionals and their view of, and needs pertaining to, postgraduates.

It contains slightly more angling metaphors than some might feel is warranted, but also has an interesting discussion of what postgraduates are felt to bring to employers, but also where lack of commercial awareness or leadership skills are felt to be an issue.

(the post is anonymised due to user amnesia, but our reader can amuse themselves for literally seconds by trying to work out who is the HECSU Mystery Poster)