Top universities make breakaway move on pay
The Russell Group of universities, representing 19 of the top research-led institutions, including Oxford, Cambridge and Bristol, is planning to break ranks by offering higher salaries for academics and charging steeper fees for students. The aim is to pursue reforms to make members more competitive internationally. The group wants to use the extra money to break free from a rigid national pay scale. Michael Sterling, vice-chancellor of Birmingham University and chairman of the Russell Group, said that many of its members' interests were not being met by Universities UK, the umbrella group for all vice-chancellors.
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MPs criticise EU research programmes
European Union research programmes receiving nearly £500 million from British taxpayers every year are cumbersome, tardy and unfocused, MPs said yesterday. Britain seemed to gain more than most countries participating in EU framework programmes, but that did not necessarily mean value for money, the House of Commons science and technology committee said.
New evidence on whale numbers
The number of humpback whales that inhabited the North Atlantic in pre-industrial times have been vastly underestimated according to genetic research from Harvard University published today in the journal Science. The researchers say that there were around 240,000 whales in the North Atlantic before whaling began. The International Whaling Commission says that the current population is about 10,000, compared with an historic high of 20,000.
(Financial Times, Guardian)
Working women can make better mothers
Working women generally make better mothers, according to a report published today. However, men complained that their wives are so busy earning money and caring for children that it leaves little time for them as a couple. Research by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation found that both parents thought the mother's paid employment had a "positive impact" by and large on family relationships.
Ice cream fat stuns scientists
Ice creams and milkshakes bought from parlours springing up in shopping centres and cinemas across Britain can contain more fat and calories than burgers and pizzas, US researchers have found. In some cases a single dessert contains two days' worth of saturated fat, while others are the calorific equivalent of an entire meal. The researchers admit, while they hardly expected to find ice cream a health food, they found the results staggering. The findings are published in the latest newsletter of the Center for Science in the Public Interest in Washington DC.