For the record

June 8, 2001

Parties fail devolution quiz

The United Kingdom's main political parties have only a sketchy understanding of what devolution means in policy terms, according to a new paper from University College London. The Liberal Democrats emerged as the most savvy.

Bids flood in for share of science fund

The Higher Education Funding Council for England has said that 99 per cent of submissions for the Science Research Investment Fund were received on time. Universities were asked to send in programmes detailing how they would spend their share of £675 million allocated to them using a formula based on their research profile. The money may be spent only on large projects to provide equipment and buildings. Hefce expects to announce projects in mid-July.

Mystery RGS donor is council member

Former financier Christopher Ondaatje, elected two years ago to the council of the Royal Geographical Society, has been revealed as the philanthropist behind a £1.5 million donation made to the RGS earlier this year.

Ron Cooke, RGS president and vice-chancellor of York University, said the donation had inspired other organisations and individuals to support the RGS's Unlocking the Archives appeal. The donations are being used to give public access to the society's extensive archives. These range from Charles Darwin's pocket sextant to David Livingstone's 1860 sketch of Victoria Falls.

V-cs' chief seeks core funds for access issues

More money is needed to help universities attract less well-off young people into higher education, Universities UK chief Baroness Warwick said this week.
Lady Warwick said that it was time that extra money for widening participation initiatives was available across the sector and incorporated into core funding.

A UUK survey has shown that universities offer an average of 450 summer school places each.

University museums receive £40 million

The Arts and Humanities Research Board has allocated more than £40 million in core funding for museums and galleries in higher education over the next five years.
Awards have been made to 26 museums and galleries varying in size from the Shefton Museum in Newcastle to the Ashmolean in Oxford.

Lancaster to close language institute

The Institute for English Language Education at Lancaster is to be closed after a senate decision this week. The university said some redundancies among the 14 staff were likely. Fears that the department of independent studies would also face the axe were allayed by a unanimous vote to keep it.

No degrees for those who owe fees

More than 1,000 students in Northern Ireland could face suspension because of unpaid tuition fees. Queen's University, Belfast, confirmed that up to 700 students have debts of up to £1,000: at the University of Ulster the figure was said to be about 300 students. Queen's said that in exceptional circumstances, students would be allowed to attend graduation ceremonies, but would only receive blank pieces of paper.

Both universities said they have issued repeated warnings to students. Ulster hinted that exam papers from students who are still in debt might not be marked.

Queen's said the 4 per cent of its fee-payers who owed money would be treated on a case-by-case basis and it would try to be as sympathetic as possible.

St Andrews faces suit from rape victim
Former St Andrews University student Erin McLean, who says she was gang-raped during an exchange trip to Odessa in Ukraine, is to bring a £100,000 action against the university in October. Ms McLean waived her right to anonymity after the attack in 1996. She is claiming lack of care by the university in allowing a group of students to go to a dangerous area.

Ms McLean, an American who has now returned to the United States, last year won support from the Scottish Legal Aid Board to sue the university. The case will be heard in the Court of Session in Edinburgh on October 17.

Ms McLean's solicitor said St Andrews had been negligent in sending the students to an area that was unstable and had failed to remove the students despite previous complaints about conditions. Robert Black, professor in Scottish law at Edinburgh University, said St Andrews was not in loco parentis because the students were over 18.

Petrol bomber targets East Yorkshire College

A petrol bomb attack on East Yorkshire College seriously damaged two first-floor offices last week. The offices were used by the personnel department and a college director.
Peter Moseley, acting principal of the college, said: "We can think of no reason why anyone would want to do this."

A spokesman for Bridlington police said that the attack involved "Molotov cocktail-style petrol bombs".

Hull wins grant to farm cucumbers off Egypt

The University of Hull has been awarded £160,700 by the government to help develop a sustainable sea cucumber fishery in Egypt.

Andrew Lawrence and a team from the department of biological sciences will monitor sea cucumber populations along the Red Sea coast. The species, related to starfish, are reckoned to have medicinal qualities in the treatment of whooping cough, bronchial inflammation, arthritis and possibly the treatment of tumours. They are also eaten when dried, salted or smoked.


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