Reporter 422, 8 June 1998


News in brief

University converts fixed-term posts

Around 60 members of staff on fixed-term contracts have been offered permanent posts as part of a University review which began in March this year. More posts will be converted as the process continues over the coming weeks.

Human Resources Director Matthew Knight said: “To date, around 60 posts have been or are being converted from contract to permanent posts. We are in contact with every department and this work will continue. We will monitor the results carefully, and for academic and academic-related staff a joint working group with the AUT has been set up for this purpose.”

Meanwhile, members of the Association of University Teachers (AUT) have embarked on a ‘work to rule’ in protest at the non-renewal of two philosophy lecturers’ fixed-term contracts. Following a 376-275 vote for action short of a strike, the AUT in Leeds has asked members not to work more than 37.5 hours per week. The union, which lobbied a meeting of University Council on May 28, wants staff to take ‘a reasonable lunch break’ each day, and not to undertake extra work.

The University has made it clear it is willing to discuss with union representatives how fixed-term contract issues can best be resolved in the future. However, it feels that the case for the non-renewal of the philosophy posts has been clearly made and that it would be unfair to apply different rules for these staff than apply to those in other departments.

The University currently has 5,394 full-time-equivalent staff. Of these, 1,899 full-time equivalents are on fixed-term contracts. There are 2,681 full-time-equivalent academic and academic-related staff, of which 1,030 are on fixed-term contracts.

Two days of dance

Disco, funk, rap, hip-hop, swing, jungle, garage......not a list of the latest craze at Leeds clubs but some of the topics up for discussion in a forthcoming conference to be attended by some of Britain’s leading experts on contemporary dance culture.

Following the success of last year’s conference examining the future of Britpop, Dr Steve Sweeney-Turner of the University’s Department of Music has organised a two-day interdisciplinary conference on dance culture to be held on June 26 and 27.

The Prodigy’s choice of – arguably offensive – lyrics, the history behind the Charleston and the rise of DJs as superstars in youth culture are among the topics to be covered.

The conference will also address issues of contemporary and traditional popular dance music and their role in the wider cultural context. Delegates will come from as far afield as Ontario and New South Wales. *More

IPR set for review

Comments have been invited on a new draft statement of policy on intellectual property rights – the policy guiding copyright on all forms of publication and the ownership of and rewards from intellectual property and its commercial exploitation.

It was decided last year that the policy should be reviewed as it does not currently cover new forms of material such as computer-based teaching materials. The production of a new Research Handbook makes a review of IPR all the more timely.

In practice, IPR issues often have to be determined case by case but the proposed new policy suggests a general set of guidelines. The proposal will be discussed at Senate on June 17.

Material world

Materials experts from the University organised a ten-day workshop on the potential of carbon materials for NATO in Antalya, Turkey, at the end of May. The aim of the Advanced Study Institute was to bring together scientists from all over the world to provide ‘state-of-the-art’ understanding of all forms of carbon materials – covering their structure and potential applications.

Carbon materials have long been at the forefront of technological development and there is great interest in improved carbon composites for thermal management in the nuclear fusion, electronics and aerospace industries and developing carbons for fuel cells.

Traditionally, the different sectors of the carbon industry have not interacted closely but this meeting brought together these different interests and covered how processing routes can be developed to meet future industrial needs.

The programme of the workshop, directed by Professor Brian Rand, is available at http://www.leeds.ac.uk/materials/NATO_ASI.html

Prize students

Prizes have been awarded by the Glaxo Wellcome Genomics Unit to students with the best essays in their first year tutorial programmes in the School of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

Researcher takes a shine to old problem

A Leeds textile researcher is aiming to overcome the problem of shiny patches developing on woollen clothes. Wei Wang is evaluating a range of enzyme, solvent and plasma treatments to minimise the problem of shine from abrasion and wear and to prevent it happening at all.

Quality question

The Quality Assurance Agency, which monitors university standards, has modified proposals to create a team of registered external examiners to check course standards and report to the agency in the face of opposition from university leaders and trades unions.

Ministers have said students will have higher expectations of standards when they start paying up to £1,000 a year in tuition fees, but the plans have been criticised as threatening university autonomy. The Agency has said that it will put more emphasis on universities assessing themselves with the QAA monitoring the process, rather than intervening directly.

August deadline for finance forms

Departments are being asked to co-operate in the completion of a new form issued by the Accounting Standards Board covering the disclosure of related party transactions. The Finance and Commercial Director has circulated copies of the form and explanations of when they should be used to Heads of Department, and forms must be returned by August 7.

Fingerprinting brings new recognition

Ian Findlay was recently awarded title of “Young scientist of the year” by the European Society of Human Genetics in Lisbon in recognition of his work on DNA fingerprinting and genetic diagnosis in human embryo cells (see Reporter 408). He also received a cheque for 300 ecus.

Association honour

Dr John K Wales, Senior Lecturer in Medicine and Honorary Consultant Physician to the LGI, has been elected as the first Chairman of the Association of British Clinical Diabetologists at their recent meeting in London.

The Association aims to ensure the highest quality of care for patients with diabetes, to promote clinical research and support consultant diabetologists in the provision of diabetes care and services.

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