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January 11, 2002

Delayed start for new funding arrangements
Education secretary Estelle Morris has told MPs that possible changes to student funding arrangements resulting from the Department for Education and Skills review will not be in place to benefit undergraduates starting courses this autumn. Ms Morris told the House of Commons: “We do not envisage any significant changes in the method of student finance for entry in this year.”

Controversial dismissal engulfs South Florida

The senate at the University of South Florida has voted to lodge a protest at the dismissal of a Palestinian professor who is alleged to have links with so-called terrorist groups. Computer science professor Sami Al-Arian was fired on December 19 after the FBI and the Immigration and Naturalization Service claimed that a university-based think-tank he founded was a fund-raising front for terrorists. Professor Al-Arian has neither been detained nor charged with any crime. His dismissal stands despite the vote.

First degree figures stay static
There was no increase in the number of first degree graduates last year although the numbers achieving sub-degree qualifications rose by 6 per cent, according to figures released today. The latest statistics show that 265,300 graduated with first degrees in 2000-01. Nearly 77,000 people were awarded other qualifications, including Higher National Diplomas and Diplomas of Higher Education.

Infectious disease measures unveiled
The government has launched its first strategy for infectious diseases in the wake of foot and mouth. Among the proposals are the creation of a National Infection Control and Health Protection Agency, a national expert panel to assess the threat from new and emerging infectious diseases and an inspector of microbiology.

Film director takes Oxford professorship
Billy Elliot director Stephen Daldry is to be the visiting professor of comtemporary theatre at Oxford University for this year. He was director of the Royal Court Theatre and artistic adviser to the Old Vic.

Britain tops cold weather death toll
More people die from cold weather in Britain than in any other European country, scientists from Queen Mary and Westfield College said today. The UK has up to 50,000 excess deaths every year in the winter months, worse than Scandinavia and Siberia, according to William Keatinge of QMW. “People here simply do not take the cold seriously and appreciate the danger it poses,” he said. His research is published in this week’s British Medical Journal.

Transkei free to recruit new students
South African education minister Kader Asmal has lifted a ban on the recruiting of new students at the University of Transkei that he imposed last year out of concern for the university’s financial circumstances.

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