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Coronavirus developments at a glance—24 March

Coronavirus brings massive change UK universities, the European Commission is told to raise its game

The European Commission should be doing more with the EU’s Horizon 2020 R&D programme to help combat the Covid-19 pandemic, an influential MEP has said, including setting up a €30 million prize for technologies that can detect when people have been infected.

The World Health Organization and Europe’s particle physics laboratory Cern are among organisations asking staff and others to be vigilant about hackers taking advantage of the Covid-19 pandemic to launch cyber-attacks. While research and higher education institutions have been told to adopt a spirit of collaboration over the move to working online in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, by the European Universities Association.

Germany’s academics have begged the government to declare the current university term a “non-semester”, as classes and teaching fall behind in a nationwide lockdown.

In a big day for research policy in the UK, the Research Excellence Framework has been put on hold “until further notice” as the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic grows.

This came after the universities minister warned institutions against changing offers to applicants after the cancellation of A-level exams due to the coronavirus, with the Department for Education saying the practice risks “destabilising” the UK higher education system. Our HE service reports that talks between employers and five higher education unions over pay rises for the next academic year have been put on hold due to the coronavirus outbreak, as the University and College Union postpones its annual congress.

And science minister Amanda Solloway has written to UK universities and other research institutions urging them to protect “critical” science and research activity during the coronavirus pandemic.

Cancer Research UK has become the latest funder delay grant activities, as it defers all funding panels and committees to the second half of the year in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.

The government has also invited bids for up to £25,000 each for digital support solutions for people in the UK who are self-isolating during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Yesterday’s Covid-19 round up