For the record

February 8, 2002

Plan to streamline support system
All student support is to be paid directly by electronic cash transfer under streamlining plans announced this week by the government.

Under the Regulatory Reform Action Plan all loans, grants and allowances due to students will be swept together into a single payment system run by the Student Loans Company.

All students will undergo a detailed income assessment in their first year from 2003. Students will only be required to produce documentation on topics such as family income at the start of their courses.

Details: regulation/act/background.htm

Leicester students fall victim to muggers
Security warnings have been posted at Leicester University after a spate of student muggings.
Seven students were attacked in one week in Victoria Park, all after dark. One student was stabbed in the arm after refusing to hand over his mobile phone, another had his phone and £50 stolen.

Jewish studies college denies closure claims
The London School of Jewish Studies has denied claims that its financial situation will force it to close in the next few weeks.

The 150-year-old former Jews' College is looking for new funders after the Lord Ashdown Charitable Trust cut its £40,000 a month support in December.

Director Ian Rabbinowitz admitted that the school was looking at other funding sources but insisted it would not close.

School president, Chief Rabbi Dr Jonathan Sacks (pictured), said its future was up to the trustees.

Referendum held to name new college
A referendum will be held on Teesside to name the first further education college to be built in the northeast for 30 years.

The £16.5 million development, under construction at Teesdale Business Park in Stockton on Tees, will replace the split-site Stockton and Billingham College.

More student visas refused
The number of refused visa applications from overseas students has more than doubled since 1997. In 2000, more than 20,100 applications to study in the United Kingdom were turned down, up from 9,309. In the first two months of last year there were more than 6,000 refusals. Final figures for last year will be collated in April. 
Scots' new universities to run law degree
The Law Society of Scotland has for the first time accredited three new universities to run an LlB degree.

Until now, it has only been possible to take an LlB at Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Strathclyde universities. But from September, cour-ses will be launched at Glasgow Caledonian, Napier and Robert Gordon universities.

MRC deal for genome database access
The Medical Research Council has done a deal with Celera, the company that produced the commercial human genome database, to allow researchers cut-price access to its data.

But the Wellcome Trust, which spent £180 million on the public human genome sequencing project, has warned its researchers that they cannot use the trust's funds to get Celera data.

An MRC spokesperson said it regarded Wellcome's Ensemble as the main access point for researchers and still encouraged people to use the public database, emphasising the MRC's continued financial support for the human genome project.

More redundancies at Central England
The University of Central England's business school has been hit by a second wave of redundancies and could lose up to a third of its staff. Lecturers' union leaders are preparing to meet managers to negotiate ways to avoid compulsory job losses, but admitted this week that they may be unavoidable.

Up to 19 jobs may go this summer, adding to 15 voluntary redundancies in January.

A report to the UCE's finance committee from vice-chancellor Peter Knight says the school faces a projected deficit of more than £780,000.

The university is expected to implement its controversial formula for deciding where any compulsory redundancies fall, based on a range of criteria including how successful staff are at raising external funding.

MPs consider scrutiny of the Royal Society
The Royal Society is being considered for scrutiny by MPs probing the United Kingdom's scientific establishment. Members of the House of Commons select committee for science and technology visited the organisation to meet leading fellows.

Committee chair Ian Gibson said: "They get a lot of government money - £25 million annually - yet have never been scrutinised."

Rector urged not to sell Glasgow's halls
Glasgow University students this week presented rector and convenor of court Greg Hemphill with a 1,000-signature petition against the proposed sale of student residences. The university said the plan to sell half the halls to a housing association could raise up to £40 million, allowing it to clear the debt incurred in building existing halls, and to build a new hall.

The Students Representative Council rejected university claims of adequate safeguards on rents and service. It said Glasgow was evading its duty to provide secure accommodation and will urge the court meeting next month to axe the plans.

Minister opens £5.5m Lincoln laboratory
Higher education minister Margaret Hodge opened the Brayford Science Centre at the University of Lincoln on Monday.

The £5.5 million laboratory building is the latest addition to the Brayford Pool campus, housing the university's biological science facilities and food research.

NI plan to promote community relations
A new plan to promote community relations in Northern Ireland's further education colleges is to be unveiled. And £155,000 has been set aside to assist the province's two universities in meeting statutory obligations on equality of opportunity and community relations.

International project to sequence tree genome
An international effort to sequence the first tree genome has been launched. The poplar will have its genetic code read in an 18-month project.

The data will help scientists to create fast-growing trees whose biomass can be converted into fuels or used to sequester carbon from the atmosphere.

Pupils prove turnips in cabbage questionnaire
Researchers at Bournemouth University found that a third of schoolchildren could not identify a cabbage and about one in six did not know a cauliflower when they saw one.

John Edwards, of Bourne-mouth's food services and head of the Worshipful Company of Cooks Centre for Culinary Research, surveyed a group of primary school pupils as part of a government project to get more fruit and vegetables in school dinners. He found that cran-berry juice was a favourite and tinned gooseberries were loathed.

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