For the record

May 4, 2001

£3.09bn for UK science base
Total spending on the United Kingdom's science and engineering base within higher education institutions was £3.09 billion in 1998-99. Government money accounted for 69 per cent while UK charities contributed twice as much as UK industry.

Pioneer King's secures a 30-year £60m loan
King's College London has raised £60 million through an unsecured loan in the biggest deal of this kind involving a United Kingdom university.

The Royal Bank of Scotland arranged the financing for the college, which involved a private placement with two unnamed institutional investors, probably pension funds.

The loan is for 30 years and is repayable in full in 2031. It will be used to fund a number of schemes, including £300 million of capital investment largely arising from the merger of King's with Guy's and St Thomas's.

Innovative colleges claim AoC awards
The Association of Colleges' Beacon Awards for colleges demonstrating innovation, partnership and excellence were presented to three new institutions this week by lifelong learning minister Malcolm Wicks (pictured below).

Runshaw College, Winstanley College and Shrewsbury sixth-form college join a total of 30 colleges that have won awards.

Oxford institute will focus on net and society
Oxford University today launched the Oxford Internet Institute, funded by a £10 million donation from the Shirley Foundation and £5 million from the Higher Education Funding Council for England.

The institute will be based at Balliol College and research will focus on the effects on society of the internet.

Thieves' loot includes five years' research
A university's head of department has lost a five-year research programme after thieves stole his computer.

Obas Ebehon, director of De Montfort University's developing world built environment research unit, had no backup of the research stored in his laptop.

The centre works with governments and academics in the developing world and Dr Ebohon believes the thieves are unlikely to realise the importance of what they have stolen.

Dr Ebohon's research concerns sustainable development, energy and housing in South Africa.

Students protest over WTO's trade agreement
Student unions, including Warwick, Newcastle, Cambridge and Durham, are gearing up to campaign against the World Trade Organisation's General Agreement on Trade in Services (Gats), which they say puts higher education at risk.

Campaigners believe that liberalising trade in services could jeopardise the United Kingdom's higher education sector, with foreign competitors being given equal access to the market.

Andrzej Nowakowski, president of Sheffield University's students' union, said: "If the Gats proposals are not modified and further and higher education go down the route of a privatised system, it will create a two-tier playing field where only those who can afford it are guaranteed quality teaching."

Oxford scholars fear for alumnus held in China
Scholars at the University of Oxford have written to the Chinese ambassador to London about the detention of a former colleague.

Academics from St Antony's College believe Xu Zerong may have been detained because of his research on Chinese foreign policy. Dr Xu is being held by the authorities without information being made available on the charges against him, says the letter. "We have, however, seen reports which indicate that he is under investigation and detention for publishing material on aspects of Chinese foreign policy," it says.

Sainsbury announces £42m for technologies
Science minister Lord Sainsbury has announced a three-year boost to measurement technology, weighing in at £42 million.

The money will be shared by the universities, the National Physics Laboratory, the Laboratory of the Government Chemist and industry.

Applications may include remote medical diagnosis, energy efficient jet engines and the monitoring of tooth decay.

Nine programmes within the UK National Measurement System will benefit: biotechnology (£5 million), optical radiation (£7.9 million), photonics (£4.3 million), thermal materials (£6.8 million), software (£3.5 million), international metrology (£0.9 million), quantum metrology (£7.6 million), measurement technologies research (£1 million) and knowledge transfer (£4.6 million).

QMUC set to lose site to Royal Bank of Scotland
A bid by Queen Margaret University College to share a site apparently being earmarked for the Royal Bank of Scotland has been snubbed.

QMUC, which had been the preferred bidder for the site, was shocked when the owners, the local health trust, unilaterally broke off negotiations last month.

QMUC wants the site of the former psychiatric hospital for a single main campus, but there is strong speculation that the Royal Bank of Scotland wants it for its world headquarters.

The planning brief for the site, approved by the council 18 months ago, says classification makes it suitable for an educational institution or training centre but not for a business park. The bank refused to comment.

Norwich staff strike over redundancy threat
Lecturers at Norwich City College went on strike on Tuesday over "a lack of meaningful consultation" on restructuring plans that they claim will mean redundancies, downgrading, contract changes and course cuts.

A college spokesman said proposed changes in the curriculum could affect up to 50 posts, but he added: "It does not necessarily mean redundancies."

Notts measures up to sizeable challenge
Nottingham Trent University researchers have rocked the fashion world by helping to discover that 90 per cent of women are wearing the wrong size bra.

Working with Marks & Spencer high street stores in a nationwide sizing survey in which they took 46,000 bust measurements, they found that most women's bras were the wrong width or the wrong cup size.

More than half of the women surveyed were a bigger cup size than they thought they were.


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