Today's news

June 4, 2003

Hodge adjusts definition of a university
Plans to scrap the traditional, internationally recognised definition of a university and grant the title to at least seven more institutions were announced yesterday by Margaret Hodge, the higher education minister. To the dismay of vice-chancellors and lecturers, she said the title of university would no longer be confined to academic communities that conduct scholarly research across a range of disciplines. "The most important requirement for the university title should be the quality of an institution's teaching and the number of students enrolled," Mrs Hodge said. The first seven colleges to benefit will be the Bolton Institute, Buckinghamshire Chilterns, Canterbury Christ Church, Liverpool Hope, the London Institute, Northampton and Worcester. The announcement represents an even more fundamental change to higher education than the Conservative government's decision in 1992 to allow polytechnics to call themselves universities, which ushered in the era of mass higher education.
(Daily Telegraph, Times, Guardian)

Oxford bohemians accuse cut-throat college
The tree-lined Victorian enclave that is home to Oxford's intelligentsia is said to be threatened by the greed of wealthy St John's College. St John's is said to be acting like a "cut-throat developer", hiking up rents and selling every scrap of land for housing. Residents' anger spilled over when the college refused to renew the lease of Martin Jennings, the 45-year-old royal sculptor who has lived and worked in the area for nearly 20 years. Mr Jennings, whose bust of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother stands in St Paul's Cathedral, has been told he must leave his Victorian coach house in September because the college wants to convert it into a £500,000, three-bedroom home. His plight, the closure of a tennis club by the college and concerns over the future of the only community centre have led to residents demanding answers from the university.
(Daily Telegraph)

Birds with teeth turn the clock back 70m years
The first birds with teeth since the age of the dinosaurs have been created by an Anglo-French team of scientists, raising the prospect of new dental treatments for people - and even a cure for baldness. A batch of chicken embryos raised at a French laboratory have been coaxed into growing rudimentary teeth, after researchers managed to re-awaken a gene that has lain dormant in birds for at least 70 million years. The results of the experiments, which are published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, have caused jaws to drop all over France: the French expression "quand les poules auront des dents", meaning "when hens have teeth", is the equivalent of the English "pigs might fly".

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