Professional Issues

Terms of Reference for Policy, Education and Professional Affairs

Pilot study of university Biochemistry Programmes raises questions over current chemistry and practical provision
A pilot study involving 12 representative biochemistry departments found that nearly all programmes fulfilled the criteria of a Core Curriculum drawn up in 1996 as regards coverage of the core elements of biochemistry. However, only 5 out of 12 programmes fulfilled the recommendation that relevant chemistry should constitute 25% of first year studies, and only 3 out of 12 provided one day per week biochemistry practicals in years one and two. The report discussed the implications of these findings.
Information for the study was drawn from documents that departments were readily able to supply. Participants considered that the study provided useful comparative information that would enable them to benchmark their programmes against Biochemical Society standards and the sector norm, and for Subject Review purposes.

A survey of the views and needs of Biochemical Society members working in small to medium sized companies
The survey found overwhelming support for the Society to introduce focused workshops on particular aspects of biotechnology for networking purposes, and strong support for the Society to make more information available on the web of the interests and expertise of academic bioscientists.

Views on the Dearing Report on Higher Education sent to the Commons Education and Employment Select Committee
This response focused on purposes of higher education, quality and standards, the need for a new broad framework of courses to cater for the needs of future researchers, technical staff, and those requiring a more general science training, and on funding issues.

Monthly Reports on Professional Affairs
An update of the Society's activities in this area, and a digest of newspaper cuttings and journal reports dealing with science policy, and science education and funding, will be posted monthly.

Response to the Graduate Standards Programme report. The Society emphasised the fundamental importance of establishing a descriptive awards framework to clarify the relationship between undergraduate awards at different levels, with a series of expected outcome competencies. Departments across Higher Education offering courses of the same level and type were encouraged to benchmark standards, and to arrange meetings for internal and external examiners so as to strengthen peer judgement. The Society recommended moving towards a system of transcripts to indicate graduate achievement.

Response to the position paper on Higher Level Vocational Qualifications The Society supported the development of vocational awards up to level 5, and highlighted the need for higher level vocational qualifications to acquire the same esteem as academic awards.

Careers and Employment Statistics

Trends in initial employment of UK biochemistry graduates A survey of initial employment of first degree and PhD graduates over the last 15 years.

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