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Not Super Pleased

Faculty members, postdocs, and graduate students in the UK are displeased with how university administrators are making employment-related decisions during the COVID-19 pandemic, Nature reports.

Researchers led by the University of Bristol's Richard Watermeyer conducted a survey in which they asked more than 1,000 UK academics about their institutional leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic. As they report in the British Journal of Sociology of Education, the researchers found that 84 percent of survey respondents think the pandemic has led to a further consolidation of decision-making power among senior leadership teams and that 60 percent of respondents think it has weakened the autonomy of academics.

"There seems to be a real sense among the academic community in the UK that universities are using the pandemic as an opportunity to push through certain cost-cutting agendas," Watermeyer tells Nature.

Nature adds that some of academics' concerns may have been long standing, as previous surveys had also found faculty and staff disapproved of their institutions' management teams, and Watermeyer further traces the issue to a shift in the late 1990s when universities began to be run more like businesses.

Raj Jethwa, chief executive of the Universities and Colleges Employers Association, tell Nature, that the COVID-19 pandemic has put financial pressures on universities though "their fundamental mission has not changed."

The Scan

Polarized Science Confidence

A new survey finds that confidence in science among US adults is increasingly polarized, the Associated Press says.

Time to Sit Back and Relax

NPR reports that the US National Institutes of Health has transferred the last of its eligible former research chimpanzees to a sanctuary.

Omicron-Focused Vaccines

The New York Times reports both Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna have launched trials of SARS-CoV-2 vaccines targeting the Omicron variant.

Nature Papers Present Cloud-Computing Analysis Approach, Transcription Factor With Role in Bacterial Genome Organization

In Nature this week: researchers describe the free, open-source cloud-computing infrastructure Serratus and more.