For the record

May 25, 2001

Half of expansion down to OU

Students enrolling at the Open University accounted for more than half of the expansion of student numbers at undergraduate level last year. Undergraduate enrolments were up 2.4 per cent with the OU recording a 16 per cent jump. For part-time undergraduates, the OU accounted for 63 per cent of the expansion.

Risk of Pollen spread halts GM plant trial

Genetically modified plant trials of herbicide-tolerant maize at Wolston, only two miles from Europe's biggest organic research centre, have been called off.

Environmental groups feared pollen from the trials could be carried by the wind or transported by birds and insects. Patrick Holden, director of the Soil Association, said: "This is a great victory for common sense over contamination."

Dollies benefit science, says Royal Society

The Royal Society has called for universities to work with biotechnology companies to develop genetically modified animals for research.

GM animals are essential for medical research and will be crucial in fighting diseases such as foot-and-mouth, said a report.

The Royal Society warned that patents and licences could prevent knowledge transfer between public and private sectors, holding back modifications that could protect farm animals from parasites, bacteria and viruses.

It recommended that research should be publicly funded and the results openly available.

Pay offer insufficient to halt strike action

A 3 per cent pay rise offer to further education lecturers will not be enough to divert continuing industrial action in colleges, according to lecturers' union leaders who held a national one-day strike on Tuesday.

Natfhe members will vote on their next course of action at the union's annual conference in Scarborough this weekend.

Sue Berryman, Natfhe's further education spokeswoman, said: "The employers are expressing sympathy with the lecturers, yet their pay offer is pretty pathetic. Industrial action will continue until they come up with something better."

Research council teams up with MOD

The Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council has signed a concordat with the Ministry of Defence to collaborate on areas of joint technology research.

Relevant areas include space technology, the space environment, radio propagation, radar technology, X-ray and neutron detectors, image and pattern processing, data and information processing and sensor array signal processing.

DU-related cance risk low for most soldiers

Most soldiers who were exposed to radiation from depleted uranium on the battlefield are unlikely to have an increased risk of developing cancer, according to a report from the Royal Society.

However, the RS recommends further research into a small number of soldiers travelling in vehicles hit by DU weapons and who may have up to double the risk of developing lung cancer.

DU was used in weapons in both the Gulf war and the Balkans conflict. The RS commissioned the report in January independently of the government in response to public concern.

Edinburgh targets less privileged school pupils

Edinburgh University is countering its elitist image by launching a scheme to encourage more pupils from state schools to apply to study law and medicine.

The two-year pilot project has won £70,000 from the Sutton Trust, which boosts educational opportunities for young people from deprived backgrounds.

Universities join for excellence at sea

Glasgow and Strathclyde universities this week launched their joint department of naval architecture and marine engineering.

It brings together Glasgow's department of naval architecture and ocean engineering and Strathclyde's department of ship and marine technology. The two universities say the complementary expertise will create a centre of international excellence.

Stress-level study to cover 17 institutions

The Higher Education Funding Council for England has commissioned an assessment of stress levels endured by higher education staff. Researchers at Plymouth University will quiz staff in 17 institutions. The study will take a year.

Professional staff unions may merge

Scientists, technologists and engineers represented by the IPMS trade union are to vote on plans to create a new trade union for professional staff in a merger with the Engineers and Managers Association.

The new union, which would be known as Prospect, would subsume the EMA's 29,000 members to create a union of 105,000 members making "a knowledge-based union for a knowledge-driven era", according to IPMS general secretary Paul Noon.

If students understand how to getin, they're in

Many university admissions tutors do not understand the new sixth-form Curriculum 2000 and the accompanying points tariff, it was claimed this week.

Brian Heap, launching the new edition of his entry guide Degree Course Offers , said the confusion could have advantages for applicants.

"This year, universities don't know what's coming and they are going to have to be very, very flexible," he said.

"One tutor said to me that anyone who understands the system should get an offer and another said that anyone who understands it can have a job in his office," said Mr Heap.

Correction

Kingston University was omitted from the listing of nursing departments scoring a rating of excellent or 22 points or more in our summary of teaching quality assessment (League Tables May 18, pages T1-T4). We apologise for this error.

 

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