From today's UK papers

March 5, 2002

Merger plan to create giant British university
Plans to create Britain's biggest university were announced yesterday with the publication of proposals to merge Manchester University and University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology. The new university is intended to compete with leading international rivals. If the proposal is supported by the governing bodies, the new institution could be opened by 2004 with approximately 28,000 students. (Independent, Guardian, Times, Financial Times)

Academics with one voice?
A single body to set standards for lecturers in universities and further education colleges is being pushed through by the government, to the alarm of academics. "There will be a huge resistance to that," said Paul Cottrell of the Association of University Teachers. "It is going to be highly bureaucratic. From my experience of further education culture it will be a much more prescriptive body." (Guardian)

American firm 'cheated' in race to map genome
The American company behind the private attempt at decoding the human genome stands accused of cheating in the race to be first to publish a complete map. A damning analysis of Celera's scientific method and data has argued the company used wholesale information from the rival publicly funded project and that it had failed to publish a truly independent DNA sequence. Celera says that the claim "does not hold up to scrutiny". (Independent)

Holocaust denier made bankrupt
The pro-Nazi author David Irving was yesterday declared bankrupt after failing to pay £150,000 in costs after his failed libel action over charges that he was a Holocaust denier. Irving now faces losing his flat in Mayfair, central London, estimated to be worth £900,000. (Guardian, Independent)

No health risk from mobile phone masts
Health concerns about mobile phone masts were allayed yesterday with the publication of a scientific study into emission levels. The report, conducted by the Radio Communications Agency, a division of the Department of Trade and Industry, showed that emission levels from mobile phone masts were at least several hundred times below agreed international levels. (Financial Times)

Sex help fails to curb teen pregnancy
Access to contraception does not reduce teenage pregnancies, according to new research from the University of Nottingham. The study, published in Journal of Health Economics , even found some evidence that greater access to family planning services was associated with an increase in under-age pregnancy. Britain has one of the highest rates of teenage pregnancy in Europe and the government has committed itself to halving the rate of conceptions among under 18-year-olds by 2010. (Times)

Email backstabbing on the rise in London
Londoners emerge as the most immoral users of email in the country, regularly indulging in behaviour which would make Jo Moore blush, according to a NOP survey published today. While dubious email dealings eventually cost the transport secretary Stephen Byers's special adviser her job, most London employees questioned admitted using office emails to backstab their colleagues and more than a third said they had distributed offensive material from their desks. (Guardian)

Thomas on right track for the autistic
The calm, slow narration of the Thomas the Tank Engine TV programme helps children with autism and Asperger's syndrome to develop, a report by the National Autistic Society said yesterday. Children with autism have trouble communicating and understanding emotions, but the exaggerated fixed facial expressions of the characters make it easier for them to understand what emotion is being felt, the report found. (Times)

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