WENR, May 2016: Europe

U.K.: Parliamentary committee says Brexit will hurt scientific community

As the capstone to a six-month inquiry, the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee has issued a report warning that the U.K. scientific community would suffer in the event of a Brexit — shorthand for British withdrawal  from the European Union. Citing the benefits of EU funding, the ease of British student mobility across Europe, and collaborative opportunities, the report argues that the benefits of EU membership far outweigh the fallout of restrictions (for instance, EU regulations that some observers view as prohibiting research opportunities). British students echo this sentiment; 76 percent support staying in the EU. The Brexit vote is scheduled for June 23.

University World News
April 21, 2016


Switzerland: Big pharma funds academic research; meddles with results

The Swiss public television channel SRF recently reported that big pharmaceutical companies are spending millions of dollars on professorships and research grants at leading universities in Switzerland. SRF raised the concern that the companies may try to manipulate scientific data stemming from that research. One company, Merck Serono, made funding contingent on frequent reviews of the research, and retained the right to make “acceptable alterations” to the results.

April 20, 2016

U.K.: Students vote to sabotage potential tuition increase

Seeking to derail a hotly-debated program that would allow universities to increase tuition fees, students voted to boycott two surveys that are critical to the governments’ efforts to implement a proposed Teaching Excellence Framework. Under the proposed framework, universities would be ranked by measures such as student ratings, and student employment status six months after graduation. If a university scores well, it would be allowed to raise tuition fees.

The Guardian
April 20, 2016

France: Two elite Parisian universities to merge

Two prestigious universities in Paris, Pierre and Marie Curie University (UPMC) and Paris-Sorbonne University will merge by January 2018. The French government has earmarked 1 billion dollars for the merge process as part of a drive to create multidisciplinary universities that can compete with leading universities across the world. UPMC is a top scientific and medical research-based institution. Paris-Sorbonne University is internationally recognized for the humanities and social sciences.

University World News
April 14, 2016

Sweden: Influx of refugees leads to sea change in spoken language

A researcher believes that, with the influx of refugees in 2015, Arabic has likely surpassed Finnish as the second most common language in Sweden. Mikael Parkvall, a linguist at Stockholm University, found that in 2012, 200,000 people in Sweden spoke Finnish as their native language, while 155,000 spoke Arabic. Parkvall can’t say with certainty which language holds the number two spot, but with over 163,000 asylum seekers coming to Sweden in 2015, he believes that Arabic has likely overtaken Finnish. Finnish has been Sweden’s second most common language for centuries. Parkvall’s research also indicated that Arabic is now the second leading language in Denmark, and the third most spoken language in France and the Netherlands.

The Washington Post
April 7, 2016

Posted in Europe, Regional News Summaries