For the record

October 5, 2001

Research in chaos after lab fire
The British Antarctic Survey’s £2 million Bonner Laboratory has been destroyed by fire.

The fire started at the building, at the Rothera Research Station on the Antarctic Peninsula, last Friday morning. Heavy snow has since half-buried the wreckage. All staff were evacu-ated and no one was hurt.

The fire has thrown scientific programmes into chaos weeks before the start of the 2001-02 field season. The cause is being investigated.

Academics call for aid to halt Afghan crisis
Senior staff at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine have called for action to prevent a humanitarian disaster in Afghanistan, in a letter from 13 of the school’s department heads and leading scientists, printed in the British Medical Journal.

More than 100 staff and postgraduates at Aberdeen University have sent an anti-war open letter to prime minister Tony Blair, Scotland’s first minister Henry McLeish, and Nato secretary general Lord Robertson.

Refugee doctors could help NHS shortage
Rules should be relaxed to help refugee doctors plug acute staff shortages in the National Health Service, Sir George Alberti the president of the Royal College of Physicians has said.

The Liberal Democrats have estimated that there are about 2,000 refugee doctors in the United Kingdom at a time when the NHS is 10,000 doctors short.

Moray head blames board for troubles
Jim Logan, new principal of troubled Moray College, has blamed the institution’s difficulties on an insecure and inexperienced board of management that failed to exercise “due control” of the former principal.

Robert Chalmers was suspended in January 2000 and later retired on the grounds of ill health.

Dr Logan was quizzed by the Scottish Parliament’s audit committee in the wake of a report by the auditor general for Scotland on the college’s deteriorating financial position. It faces a £2.5 million deficit.

More NI graduates study on
Just under 60 per cent of new Northern Ireland graduates found work by December last year compared with 67 per cent overall in the United Kingdom. But 32 per cent went on to further study compared with 21 per cent overall. Of those who work, three-quarters went into management, administration, professional and technical jobs.

OU-trained teachers stay in the profession
Twice as many teachers trained by the Open University stay in the profession as the national average, according to a survey. The OU found that at least four-fifths of the teachers that it trained were either teaching or intended to teach three years after qualification.

This compares with Ofsted estimates that up to 40 per cent of teachers leave the profession within three years.

Fulbright seeks more non-Oxbridge entrants
The Fulbright Commission has put out an appeal for more non-Oxbridge postgraduates to apply for Fulbright awards to spend a year at a US university. The closing date is November 8.

Guildhall students oppose merger plans
Students at London Guildhall University are opposing its planned merger with the University of North London and are threatening occupations if they are ignored.

In a student union vote, 88 per cent came out against a merger and 12 per cent abstained.

Institutions share £120m for innovation
Trade secretary Patricia Hewitt this week announced that £120 million of innovation funding would go to more than 200 universities, colleges and hospitals.

The awards were made as part of the knowledge exploitation funding programme, comprising the Higher Education Innovation Fund, Science Enterprise Challenge, University Challenge and the Public Sector Research Exploitation Fund.

£15m for Scottish modernisation
Scotland’s further education colleges have won a £15 million cash boost to modernise their facilities and support promising recovery plans.

Enterprise and lifelong learning minister Wendy Alexander said: “More than half has been earmarked for modernisation and building projects.

“A further £7 million will support those colleges that have been in difficulty but have had the vision to put in place turnaround strategies.”

More trainees taking up PGCE courses
The numbers of trainee teachers starting PGCE courses this autumn has risen, with boosts in several shortage subjects.

Provisional figures for 2001 entry show acceptances up 4.3 per cent for secondary school training and 3.8 per cent overall. Applications increased by 16 per cent. Acceptances for maths were up 6.9 per cent, while those for physics climbed 8 per cent and information technology was up more than 40 per cent.

Liverpool to establish Centenary Foundation
The University of Liverpool, which will celebrate 100 years of its royal charter in 2003, is setting up a Centenary Foundation to raise £70 million for major projects. These include a £10 million management school to open next autumn and £15 million to develop the school of engineering.

Scots plan to boost teacher numbers
Jack McConnell, Scotland’s education minister, has announced a review of entry requirements to teacher education courses as part of a campaign to boost teacher recruitment. The Scottish Executive wants to attract an extra 2,900 teachers by 2006.

Hull takes a dive into distance learning
Television viewers captivated by the BBC series The Blue Planet can undertake a related distance-learning course this autumn. Hull University is running an Open University online course called The Blue Planet - In Deeper, with modules run alongside each episode. It can count towards a bachelor degree.

A pie chart indicating money spent on arts and humanities research ( THES , September 28, page 2) was taken from incorrect information published in the Higher Education Funding Council’s annual report.

The correct figure for the funding for museums and galleries should read £8.99 million.      

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