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Coronavirus developments at a glance—18 May

Covid-19’s toll on university finances, and a warning from history for UK policy

From the archive: The UK government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies has made headlines over the past month for being too secretive. But the concerns are not new. In 2011 a report by the House of Commons Science and Technology Select Committee found that the workings of the group were “unnecessarily secretive”. Today we republish our article about that report in full.

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The Covid-19 pandemic will have a long-term impact on the finances of many universities, the European University Association has warned in a new briefing paper looking at the lessons that can be applied from the 2008 financial crisis.

In Norway, administrative university staff consigned to working from home during the coronavirus pandemic have said they are struggling to administer exams and manage student admissions. Meanwhile, the Covid-19 pandemic could leave a €374 million hole in the finances of Irish universities over the coming 18 months.

Students have been told by England’s regulator to complain to the Office for the Independent Adjudicator or escalate their problems to court if they are not satisfied with their online classes. And employers are taking back graduate job offers as the coronavirus slowdown starts to bite, according to the Institute for Student Employers.

A vast majority of PhD students and research staff are worried about their finances and future careers as a result of Covid-19 lockdown, according to a major survey intended to inform institutions’ and funders’ actions to support researchers.

The UK government’s claim that it is “following the science” on coronavirus is not an appropriate defence against difficult questions about its policy decisions, a professor of public engagement with science has said. The government has announced a £215 million investment to help develop and manufacture a vaccine against coronavirus.

New Zealand
Most of New Zealand’s universities will not reopen until July, despite a government easing of Covid-19 lockdown restrictions from 18 May that will allow students to return to campuses. New Zealand’s government is to launch a $150 million short-term loan scheme to help businesses continue with R&D projects affected by the Covid-19 lockdown.