Today's news

July 21, 2003

History students favour TV over books
History students at university have studied their subject more from watching television than reading serious books, according to the 11th annual survey by History Today magazine published today. The boom in history programmes on television is undermining university study by encouraging students to believe that the subject is an exercise in storytelling rather than a rigorous intellectual discipline, academics complain. All of the departments that responded said that they had to provide translations of foreign texts for students. The language barrier was now so great that some feared for the future recruitment of history academics capable of studying texts in other languages.
(Times, Guardian, Independent)

British lecturers paid less in Italy
Foreign secretary Jack Straw is expected to discuss pay discrimination against British lecturers in Italy with his opposite number today. Italy is facing the prospect of paying swingeing fines to Brussels because of its refusal to give hundreds of foreign language lecturers the same rights as Italian colleagues. David Petrie, chairman of the Association of Foreign Lecturers in Italy, said last night: "Having examined the criteria, a reasonable estimate would be upwards of €150,000 a day (£106,000), backdated to when Italy was found to have infringed European law just over two years ago."

Academics in degrees-for-cash inquiry
Eighteen people including students, university administrators, lecturers and professors were confined by judicial order to their homes in and around Rome on Friday as police continued an investigation into what they said was a huge degree-trading racket at Europe's biggest university. Investigators said they had secretly recorded conversations worthy of a Mafia thriller, in which law students at La Sapienza University bought exam results using a code based on the names of flowers.
(Guardian Saturday)

Manchesters united as universities merge
After ten months of discussion and consultation, a new name has finally been agreed for the university to be created from a merger of the University of Manchester and the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology. The name is surprisingly familiar: the University of Manchester.
(Guardian Saturday)

DNA used in attempt to solve Christian mystery
Genetic fingerprinting might soon clear up an ancient Christian mystery - the origins of medieval parchments and even the Canterbury Gospels, thought to have arrived in Britain in 579AD. With a £52,000 grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Board, Cambridge scientists plan to study DNA in parchments prepared from animal skins to trace where they came from.
(Guardian Saturday)

Innovative educationalist dies
Lord Perry of Walton, an innovator in British higher education and founding vice-chancellor of the Open University in the late 1960s, has died aged 82.
(Independent, Guardian Saturday)

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