Today's news

May 6, 2003

Oxford slashes student subsidy
Oxford University students face a sharp increase in the cost of their degrees after a decision to reduce the subsidies paid towards their living costs. The move by Trinity College, which will add more than £4,000 to the price of three years' study, marks an end to the days when Oxbridge students could expect to live in palatial sets for peppercorn rents.  The decision, likely to be copied by other colleges, will see board and lodging costs at Trinity increase by 57 per cent over four years - more than five times the rate of inflation.

Foundation degrees get thumbs up
Two-year foundation degrees will be more popular than their critics have claimed if marketed properly, claims new research by education consultants Barkers. The job-related qualifications, which have attracted 12,000 students to date, have had a mixed reception from academics and commentators since being launched by the government two years ago. Since the white paper, there has been a surge of interest among universities and colleges facing the prospect of losing research income and the need to boost recruitment.

Government science adviser speaks out on research
The way to get the best out of universities outside the London and Oxbridge science elite is to engage them in a "stick-and-carrot" process that recognises good behaviour, Sir David King, the government's chief scientific adviser, has said. He argues that those universities that missed out on research funding tended not to understand how grant awards worked.
(Financial Times)

Devolution could undermine UK innovation
Devolution could undermine Britain's lead in science and technology by spreading funding too thinly, the head of Scotland's leading electronics institute has warned. Ron Dunn, chairman of the Institute for System Level Integration, said devolution had created a policy vacuum that threatened the funding of the institute, as well as other globally important projects in the devolved regions. He said the Scottish parliament had thrown its support behind Scottish science and technology, but he believed there had been a backlash among the "old boy network" at the Department of Trade and Industry, which was focusing its resources on English projects.
(Financial Times)

Russian mathematician cracks conundrum
For almost a century Poincaré's Conjecture has tempted, taunted and ultimately vanquished some of the brightest minds in mathematics. Now, a little-known Russian scholar from the Steklov Institute of Mathematics in St Petersburg has astonished the rarefied world of topology, the science of surfaces, by coming up with what appears to be the first formal proof after eight solitary years of work - probably. For the past month, he has been touring universities in the US explaining his proof to his peers. Many have come away convinced that he has done it, but nobody is prepared to say for sure.

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