News in brief

September 28, 2001

Daresbury-Rutherford pact reaps cash benefit

Daresbury and Rutherford Appleton laboratories are to benefit from the latest Faraday Partnership. Some £200,000 of annual government funding will go towards research into the next-generation of particle accelerators.

The partnership will concentrate on high-power radio frequency engineering. The research could produce improved scanning therapies for hospitals, environmentally friendly waste handling and advanced communication technologies. A further £1 million will be provided by the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council.

Scots get £1.7m to run language courses

Scotland's further education colleges are being given £1.7 million to run English-language classes for asylum-seekers and other newcomers to Scotland.

Jackie Baillie, Scotland's social justice minister, said the cash would be channelled through the Scottish Further Education Funding Council.

Colleges will be able to claim for the costs of running courses and to waive fees in cases of hardship. 

'Debt is depressing our students'

The student loan scheme is encouraging a debt culture and causing depression in students, according to a book published this week.

Student Debt, which is edited by economic psychologists Alan Lewis and Stephen Lea and PhD student Adrian Scott, contains the results of surveys of attitudes towards money management by undergraduates and graduates.

It found that current students were more tolerant of debt than either intending or former students, but that 32 per cent of those anticipating excessive debts on graduation suffered depression, compared with 8 per cent of those who did not.

UK falls short on R&D investment

Industrial research and development spending in the United Kingdom lags far behind its international competitors, according to a government report.

The survey is based on analysis of 597 British businesses that, between them, spend £15 billion on R&D.

It found the typical UK company spends 2.1 per cent of its sales on R&D compared with a global average of 4.2 per cent. Investment in aerospace, pharmaceuticals and health was above average but areas such as chemicals, electronics, engineering and information technology hardware were starved of funding.

Farren's NI department suspended once more

Northern Ireland's Department for Employment and Learning is facing an uncertain future as the prospects for the peace process hang in the balance.

Universities and colleges minister Sean Farren found himself and his department suspended last Saturday for the third time in 18 months.

The one-day freeze left many academics furious that the government's "on-off" switch left devolution appearing more of a gift than a right.

But the legal technicality gave Dr Farren and the power-sharing executive and assembly a further six-week breathing space to resolve the obstacles of the IRA decommissioning of arms.

Cubie to be chairman of advisory committee

Andrew Cubie, whose report on student finance led to tuition fees being axed in Scotland, has been appointed chairman of the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework's joint advisory committee.

The framework aims to make qualifications from school to postgraduate level easier to understand for students and employers.

EU chief puts foot down over stem-cell debate

The European Union commissioner for research, Philippe Busquin, has repeated his support for research on stem cells, but reiterated the EU's opposition to therapeutic cloning.

Following a meeting of the coordinators of 15 transnational research projects on stem-cell therapy, he said: "Stem-cell research is among the proposed research priorities under the next Framework Programme . But I want to make clear that European research programmes... will not fund research on embryonic stem cells that involves the creation of an embryo for research purposes."

Member states are free to establish their own legislation on the use of stem cells. The UK has one of the most liberal regimes, allowing the creation of embryos by cloning to derive stem cells.


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