For the record

June 29, 2001

From lab demonstrator to vice-chancellor

Kel Fidler (pictured) has been appointed vice-chancellor of Northumbria University. The professor of electronics at the University of York will take over from Gilbert A. Smith on September 1. Professor Fidler, 55, started his career as a laboratory demonstrator and lecturer at Rutherford College, which is now part of the University of Northumbria.

Brighton stadium plan is kicked into touch

Brighton University has scuppered proposals for a community stadium and new home for Brighton and Hove Albion partly on its campus.

After more than 18 months of talks with the local council and the football club, the university board has decided not to support the club's application for a stadium at Falmer, on land owned partly by the university.

The club was not prepared to pay the university's price to replace buildings that would have to have been pulled down. The university was worried about security and visual impact. The football club said it would press ahead with an alternative application 200m south of university land.

Vicar protests overpew without a view

Vicar David Cawley has branded De Montfort University's plans for a new student block "disastrous".

The Rev Cawley, of St Mary de Castro Church, Leicester, said proposals for a nine-storey building would block his church's view of the nearby cathedral.

De Montfort is one of the fastest growing universities in the country and is committed to providing accommodation for every first-year student by the year 2004. The planning application will be considered by Leicester City Council later this summer.

Hair restorer product wins technology award

Philip McGurk and Valerie Randall from Bradford University have been awarded £50,000 to develop a product that will restore grey hair to its original colour without using harsh chemicals.

The award is one of more than 40 given by the National Endowment for Sciences, Technology and the Arts.

A £75,000 fellowship has been awarded to Caroline Wilkinson, from the unit of art and medicine at the University of Manchester, to develop a computerised forensic tool to make facial reconstruction more realistic and individual.

Other winners include Lucy Comerford, from Bradford University, who receives £51,000 to develop a computer-based classical pipe organ, and Geoff Whiteley, from the University of Leeds, whose research into environmentally friendly garden mulches is sponsored with £48,238.

Idea while gardening bears fruit for student

A group of Warwick University undergraduates have set up a spin-off company that they say could save the National Health Service more than £500 million.

Andrew Bodsworth, a mature computer-science student, came up with the idea during a holiday working as a gardener for a pharmacist.

He and six fellow students have developed software that sits alongside a doctor's drug prescription database and flags up an alternative if a cheaper drug is available. They calculate it could slash 10 per cent off the NHS drugs budget.

With the assistance of the University of Warwick Science Park business advisers, the group set up a company, AKM Software, to market the ScriptSwitch product. They are talking to 20 primary-care organisations to get the software installed in GPs' surgeries.

Biomedical engineer and assistant jailed

An internationally renowned biomedical engineer who tried to steal thousands of pounds earmarked for research was this week jailed for ten months.

John Rolfe, then head of biomedical engineering at North Staffordshire Hospital and Keele University's School of Postgraduate Medicine, set up a false bank account to accept more than £160,000. More than £12,000 came from a trust fund left from research in his previous job at Oxford's John Radcliffe Hospital, while other payments came from the sale of North Staffordshire medical equipment.

Rolfe must pay £63,000 in compensation. His personal assistant, Carol Benmarkroha, was sentenced to eight months in prison and told to repay £26,000. Rolfe was sacked in 1997.

Tycoon gives alma mater $10 million

Cambridge University's business school, the Judge Institute of Management, has received a $10 million (£7 million) donation to set up a cross-disciplinary international research programme in finance.

The money, donated by William Janeway and his wife, Weslie, will be used to launch the Cambridge Endowment for Financial Research, which will fund study into the evolution of financial markets and their behaviour. Mr Janeway completed a doctorate in economics at Cambridge in 1971. He is now vice-chairman of private equity firm Warburg Pincus.

Scientists and MPs in job-swap experiment

Scientists and politicians are getting the chance to learn more about each others' worlds with a work-exchange scheme being pioneered by the Royal Society, starting with a pilot group of six MPs paired with research fellows.

The aim is for the scientists to gain a better understanding of how policy is developed and budgets allocated. Meanwhile, the MPs with little scientific background can learn about how research is carried out and establish a network of contacts for scientific advice.

The scheme is part of the £1 million Science in Society programme launched by the society's outgoing president, Sir Aaron Klug. It will include a series of regional dialogue meetings with panels of non-scientists intended to give the society insight into the science issues worrying the public.

Apprentice numbers at peak

The number of young people joining Advanced Modern Apprenticeship courses has peaked, government figures show. Last year saw a drop in recruits for work-based programmes leading to the qualification. The number joining Foundation Modern Apprenticeship courses, formerly known as National Traineeships, continues to rise.


The University of East London has asked us to make clear that it plans to form a strategic alliance, not a merger, with the University of North London and London Guildhall University. UNL and LGU have embarked on talks with a view to merger. Mike Thorne, subject of In the News ( THES , June 15) will be focusing on the alliance when he becomes vice-chancellor of UEL.

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