For the record

September 21, 2001

£80m for staff development

£80 million has been earmarked for staff development by the Higher Education Funding Council for England in its cash allocations for this year. And £78 million will fund 31,900 extra student places, covering increased intakes to medical schools, prototype foundation degrees and diversification in initial teacher training.

Ucas predicts record number of entrants

Numbers of accepted applicants to universities look set to break all records this year with the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service predicting they will be up by 5 per cent.

As of September 18, the total accepted applicants stood at 344,478, up 5.5 per cent on last year. Ucas said just over 13,000 more had applied between this stage and the end of clearing last year. If that is repeated this year, the final figure will be about 357,000 accepted applicants, up just over 5 per cent.

Fewer have found places via clearing this year, with more than 307,000 having conditional offers confirmed, up by nearly 20,000 on this time last year. Clearing ends on September 21.

Berners-Lee to speak at launch in Oxford

Seven leading European universities will launch the "Europaeum Knowledge Centre" in Oxford next week, a knowledge and exchange communications resource that will link 150,000 European academics and students.

The launch will take place at a conference on the theme of Democracy and the Internet, at which Tim Berners-Lee (pictured), the US-based British inventor of the worldwide web, will make a rare public appearance.


Review signals new council is on cards

Public funding for research in the arts and humanities is to be reviewed, raising the prospect of a new Arts and Humanities Research Council.

The persistent call for a new research council from vice-chancellors was backed last month by the government's Council for Science and Technology.

Higher education minister Margaret Hodge said this week: "We need to make the best use of humanities and arts research. We need to look at how public money is being used and to consider whether funding would be better distributed by an executive body that has more scope to set priorities, pursue areas of research and look at the needs of different parts of the UK."

Women in science to hold first conference

Athena, the organisation set up to promote women in science and now based in the Universities UK's new Equality Challenge Unit, will hold its first conference next Tuesday. It is aimed at bringing together research undertaken on women in science, engineering and technology.

"EU research has shown that women now make up half of all undergraduates, but gradually disappear the higher up the academic tree you go," said Diana Bebbington of Athena.

Aberdeen joins prince in scholarship scheme

Aberdeen University has launched the Prince of Wales scholarship scheme to allow talented youngsters to take up higher education.

Prince Charles is already patron of the university's "6th-century" fundraising campaign. Fifteen scholarships of £1,000 a year will be available from this month to young people whose personal or financial circumstances might otherwise have made it impossible for them to go to university.

Stirling lecturer jailed for sexual assault

Allan Buchan, a doctor in a medical centre on Stirling University's campus, has been jailed for two and a half years after being convicted of sexually assaulting male students during medical checks.

A jury found Dr Buchan guilty of five charges of assault against three students.

A Stirling spokesperson said it would offer counselling support to any of its students or former students who are victims of Dr Buchan.

Union secures pay deal for De Montfort staff

Lecturers' union Natfhe has secured improved contracts for 75 hourly paid part-time teachers at De Montfort University, after more than a year of negotiations.

They won a bid for £500,000 over the next two years from the Higher Education Funding Council's special staffing and pay fund, to cover the cost of the part-timers' transfer to fractional contracts from their one-year fixed-term contracts

Environment council opens up its meeting

The Natural Environment Research Council is holding its first open forum and council meeting next week. The initiative is intended to make Nerc's decision-making processes transparent to the public.

The open forum will be held in the Staff House, Birmingham University, on Wednesday, September 26, between 3.30pm and 6.30pm. The open council meeting will be at the Chamberlain Park Hotel, Alcester Street, Birmingham, on Thursday, September , between 9am and 1pm.

Opposition education team is announced

The new Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith has announced the team that will be working with new shadow education secretary Damian Green in education and skills.

Alistair Burt is likely to take responsibility for higher and further education, Graham Brady is likely to take responsibility for schools and Eleanor Laing will concentrate on adult skills and pre-school education. Baroness Blatch and Baroness Miller of Hendon will be education and skills spokesperson in the Lords.

Guides in print for people with disabilities

Skill, the national bureau for students with disabilities, has launched a guide, Into HE 2002, giving practical advice about the support and financial help available to students with disabilities.

The guide is available through Sue Beckford at Skill, telephone 0207 450 0620, price £10 for professionals and £2.50 for students.


Squabbling insects speak out of oars

Caterpillars are all mouth and no trousers. Scientists have listened in to the grubs for the first time and conclude that they prefer a slanging match to a physical fight.

The study by Jayne Yack and colleagues at Carleton University, Canada, and Cornell University, United States, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found such "acoustic duels" among common hook-tip moth larvae could last several hours.

The racket is produced by drumming and scraping their mandibles and specialised "anal oars" against the surface of leaves.

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