News in brief

June 22, 2007

Ucea appointments
Bill Wakeham, vice-chancellor of Southampton University, will take over as chair of the University and Colleges Employers Association in September. He succeeds Alasdair Smith, out­going vice-chancellor of Sussex University, and will hold the post for three years. Seven members of Ucea’s board confirmed their departures last week. New members include: Geoffrey Crossick, warden, Goldsmiths, University of London; Shirley Pearce, vice-chancellor, Loughborough University; Dianne Jeffrey, chair of council, Derby University; Ruth Farwell, chief executive, Buckinghamshire Chilterns University College; and John Brooks, vice-chancellor, Manchester Metropolitan University.

Engineering shortfall
UK engineering courses are “seriously underfunded”, the Royal Academy of Engineering said this week. Engineering courses need to be funded at two and half to three times the ­Higher Education Council for England’s basic unit of resource, not the current 1.7, says a new report, Educating Engineers for the 21st Century.
Full report  

Charity research call
The Economic and Social Re­search Council this week issued a call for proposals for a new Centre for Charitable Giving and Philanthropy. A total of £2.2 million is on offer, under a partnership between the ESRC, the Cabinet Office of the Third Sector, the Carnegie Trust and the Scottish Executive. The closing date is August 14.
Full details  

Scots are a brainy lot
Young Scots are more likely to reach university than their English counterparts, a study funded by the Economic and Social Research Council revealed this week. The project, led by Linda Croxford and David Raffe of Edinburgh University, found that while the number of pupils staying on at school has been rising across the UK over the past 20 years, the number of Scots going on to higher education has been consistently higher than south of the border.

Degrees of success
Students see university as a passport to a good job and are ­well aware that higher education is an investment in their careers, according to new research. Kate Purcell and Peter Elias of Warwick University’s Institute for Employment Research carried out the work for the Higher Education Careers Services Unit.

In our article “US treads wary path on Israel” (June 1), we re­ported that Ed Beck, president of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, said that his organisation had clout with the Israeli Government. Mr Beck has asked us to point out that he made no mention of the Israeli Government and that he said that the SPME has support from academic colleagues in Israel.

French people let down
A book by Bath University academic Hanna Diamond criticises the French Government for failing its citizens during the German invasion of 1940. Dr Diamond, a senior lecturer in the department of European studies and modern languages, argues that the French Cabinet fled Paris without giving adequate instructions to its inhabitants. The book Fleeing Hitler: France 1940 is published by the Oxford University Press.

Student consultants
Blackburn Rovers Football Club and Preston City Council were among the organisations that allowed students from the University of Central Lancashire to act as consultants for them as part of a module on community sports development. Each group of four students produced a report that was presented at a community sports development conference.

Retail lexicon
A dictionary of traded goods —from absinthe to zoobditty match — has gone online following work by Wolverhampton University researchers. The Dictionary of Traded Goods and Commodities, 1550-1820 features 4,000 terms used in trade and retail documents in early modern Britain. It was edited by Nancy Cox and compiled by the university’s History and Governance Research Institute.

All God’s creatures
The new Winchester University Press got off the blocks at the end of last week with the publication of its first book, a theological analysis of animal rights. The author of the book, Creatures of the Same God , the Reverend Dr Andrew Linzey, recently appointed honorary professor at Winchester and a pioneer in the field of animal theology, said: “Churches should be leaders in the movement for the protection of animals, but animals are not even in the procession.”

East European links
Bradford University this week celebrated the 40th anniversary of its research unit in South East European studies, which now forms part of the department of peace studies. It can trace its roots back to 1963, when 150 staff and students from the then Bradford Institute of Technology responded to the Skopje earthquake, and was formally born when a research assistant from Skopje arrived in Bradford in summer 1967.

Healing divided cities
A Cambridge-led research project is to investigate how cities that have been torn apart by ethnic unrest or war may regenerate. The Conflict in Cities initiative will examine how the built environment in contested and divided cities can contribute to how ordinary people live together — and apart — in what may be extended periods of distrust and friction. It is being led by scholars in the department of architecture. The project will focus on Jerusalem and Belfast.

Tomatoes to be tested
Researchers at Aberdeen University are to run a trial to see whether tomatoes and tomato-based foods can help prevent stroke and heart disease. Previous studies suggest that eating tomatoes may lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. The potential benefits are thought to be due partly to the high concentration in the fruit of the bright red pigment lycopene — a powerful antioxidant. Thanks to funding from the Food Standards Agency, scientists at Aberdeen and the Rowett Re­search Institute are to put the tomato to the test. Researchers hope to start the ­trial in August.

Dinosaur discovered
A primitive dinosaur species has been discovered by Cambridge University palaeontologist David Norman during an expedition to South Africa. The Eocursor Parvus (meaning “little early runner”) was a herbivorous dinosaur less than 1m long, lightly built and capable of running quickly on its hind legs. At 200 million years old, this creature was one of the earliest representatives of the Ornithischia from which evolved the much grander and better-known
herbivorous iguanodon, triceratops and stegosaurus.

Edge Hill unveils prize
Edge Hill University is pioneering a new annual prize for the best short story collection by a single author from the British Isles. The shortlist for the Edge Hill Prize for the Short Story has been unveiled, with the final winner of the £5,000 prize to be revealed at a ceremony at Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre on July 20. The judges have come up with a shortlist of five authors: Neil Gaiman for Fragile Things; Jackie Kay, Wish I Was Here; Nicholas Royle, Mortality; Colm Toibin, Mothers and Sons; Tamar Yellin, Kafka in Bronteland.

Speech valve improved
Throat cancer patients may soon have better artificial speech valves, thanks to pioneering new research at Medway School of Pharmacy. Tim Paget, reader in medical microbiology, is working with engineers and clinicians at Hull University to develop a new type of artificial speech valve, funded by an £380,000 grant from the NHS National Institute for Health Research. He said: “We hope by the end of this project, in late 2010, to have a speech valve that will be the standard used by the NHS.”

UK lags on road safety
An international panel of road safety experts, which includes members of Loughborough University’s Vehicle Safety Research Centre, said that the UK is no longer leading the way in road safety in Europe. A comparison of UK road safety performance with that of other European countries reveals that progress in the UK on reducing the number of road deaths is slower than in other top-performing countries. Data from 2006 put the UK in sixth place in Europe
for road deaths per million ­population.

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