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University leaders have written to the University and College Union to formally outline their commitment to continuing to work with UCU to deliver long-term reform of the Universities Superannuation Scheme. The move comes as UCU members at 60 universities begin strike action in disputes over both pensions and pay.
A platform providing a single access point for businesses to university expertise and funding opportunities has been further developed by the National Centre for Universities and Business, Research England, and UK Research and Innovation, to help 'smart match' business and industry with higher education institutions, in a bid to boost R&D collaboration. Shivaun Meehan, Head of Communications at the NCUB, outlines the latest features of Konfer.
Eight out of 10 postgraduate students taking a taught course in the UK report continued satisfaction with the experience over a five-year period.But a survey of more than 70,000 postgraduates across 85 higher education institutions who responded to the Advance HE Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey (PTES) highlights for the first time areas where institutions could do better still to boost satisfaction levels.
The next government should adopt policies on graduate employment that reflect a less simplistic outlook than the current regime, argues Tristram Hooley, Chief Research Officer at the Institute of Student Employers, which has just published its manifesto wish list.
The University of Leicester has received its biggest ever single gift from a private individual - £2.7 million- which will be used to fund life-saving kidney research of global significance in the College of Medicine, Biological Sciences and Psychology.
The funding has been welcomed by the UK IgA Nephropathy Patient Group because of its potential to understand and eventually develop new drugs to treat one of the leading causes of kidney failure - IgA Nephropathy - across the world and to aid a global alliance of researchers to battle it in different populations.
The donation is the second largest made by philanthropist Mr Jimmy Mayer to further renal research at the University. In 2014, he gave £500,000 to the Leicester research team to fund the IgA Nephropathy research programme.
Mr Mayer said: “When my son was diagnosed with IgA Nephropathy in 2012 I, as any father, started to research to better understand this condition; I wanted to know what could be done and how I could modestly contribute to these efforts.
“Through my investigation I became acutely aware of the broader implication of kidney disease in our society. I also came across the great work of the fabulous team at Leicester. I hopped on a train for a visit and have ever since been their number one fan. It seemed to me that with a grant of this type they could continue to build on a very solid foundation.
“It is my sincere hope that with these efforts they can make significant progress toward a more complete understanding of IgA Nephropathy, improved treatment options and, perhaps even, a cure.”
The funding will create dedicated research facilities - The Mayer IgA Nephropathy Laboratories - as well as a named Professorship - the Mayer Chair in Renal Medicine – at the University.
The vital funding will support the work of a research group at the University of Leicester led by Professor Jonathan Barratt of the Department of Infection Immunity & Inflammation at the University. He is also an Honorary Consultant Nephrologist in the John Walls Renal Unit, Leicester General Hospital. Professor Barratt will hold the title of the Mayer Chair in Renal Medicine.
The researchers aim to further understand mechanisms that lead to the development and progression of IgA Nephropathy and to establish the world’s first international registry of IgA Nephropathy patients.
IgA Nephropathy is a condition in which an individual’s own antibodies, which are produced naturally to fight infections, settle in the kidneys and damage them by causing inflammation and scarring. Patients often do not display symptoms. As a result, most affected people are unaware they have the condition until they have a blood or urine test. The causes are not fully known and, in extreme cases, the condition can cause kidney failure.
Scientists at the University of Leicester have been investigating the condition for over 30 years. It is the excellence and transformative potential of their research that has led to this generous donation.
Professor Barratt said: “This donation will transform our approach to the study of this common cause of kidney disease. We will, for the first time, be able to compare how IgA Nephropathy behaves in populations from South America through to Asia. By comparing different populations, with different genetic risk factors and exposure to different environmental stresses such as diet, pollution and prevalent infections, we hope to identify the key factors that cause IgA Nephropathy and which of these determine whether a patient with IgA Nephropathy develops kidney failure.
Mr Bill Friar, Director of Development and Alumni Relations at the University of Leicester, said: “We are so grateful to Mr Jimmy Mayer for his generous gift, which will transform not only our own kidney research but also help researchers around the world. It is a testament to the quality of IgA Nephropathy research at the University of Leicester that he has made a second major donation to our work. I know the Mayer family want their support to raise awareness and encourage others to contribute in any way they can. We are working with Jimmy and David on ways to use their inspiring example to encourage others to make their own gifts, of any size, to further potentially life-saving research into kidney disease.”
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