Today's news

December 3, 2003


Oxford don's 10,000-mile trip to save St Hilda's
An Oxford don is making a 10,000-mile round trip from China to England in a desperate attempt to stop the governing body of Oxford's last women's college from voting to admit men. Laura Newby, a lecturer in Chinese at St Hilda's, was on sabbatical in Beijing when she heard that her vote might be crucial in maintaining the college's single-sex status. Despite a fear of flying, she agreed to return to England for the day so that she could cast her vote at a special meeting of the governing body this lunchtime.
( Daily Telegraph )

Blair puts his job on the line for top-up fees
Tony Blair is staking his premiership on his plan for university top-up fees by insisting that it is put to a vote next month even though he may be heading for defeat. More than half of his backbenchers are against the policy and he has given himself six weeks to win them round, believing that the proposal has become a test of Labour's willingness to pursue reform of the public services. The prime minister accepts that he would probably have lost if the vote had been forced this month, as Charles Clarke, the education secretary, proposed. "If you see a brick wall, you don’t drive straight into it," Mr Blair has told friends.
( Times, Financial Times, Daily Mail, Guardian, Daily Telegraph, Independent )

Students pay huge fares in Heathrow taxi fraud
Foreign students have been charged as much as £1,650 by illegal taxi touts for journeys of less than 100 miles in a new scam targeting passengers arriving at Heathrow. Police say Japanese students are the main target of the touts, who approach victims as they step into the arrivals hall. Other students have reported being charged £300 and more for fares to the Brighton and Hove area, where English language schools are in abundance. Two men were jailed yesterday for obtaining money by deception by rigging taxi fares at Heathrow.The police detective who handled the case, said the men's activities were "the tip of the iceberg".
( Independent )

£2,000 niche buy nets £150m for science journalist
A former medical science journalist who bought a niche pharmaceuticals journal in 1976 for £2,000 yesterday sold the publishing empire he built around the magazine for £150 million to Informa, the exhibitions organiser and trade magazine publisher. Philip Brown, a fellow of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society who also holds a PhD in organic chemistry from Cambridge University, set up Scrip magazine when he worked at the advertising group, JWT, in the early 1970s. The newsletter was the first of its kind to track the emerging pharmaceuticals industry.
( Guardian )

Guidance for student mentors
Undergraduate mentors who volunteer to help disaffected teenagers do so with the best of motives. But without proper training and back-up the results can be disappointing, according to Helen Colley, of the lifelong learning institute at Leeds University, who has just published a report on a university mentoring project.
( Times )
Subscribers can read the THES coverage from October 17 2003.

Animals 'can think about thought'
Monkeys can manage mathematics. Dolphins can be decisive. But US psychologists have broken new ground in the animal intelligence challenge. They have proved that animals, like humans, are capable of knowing that they don't know. The team from the University of Buffalo, New York, the University of Montana and Georgia State University report in the December issue of Behavioural and Brain Sciences .
( Guardian )

Global warming will hit ski resorts, UN warns
The future of some famous low-level ski resorts, including Kitzbühel in Austria, could be wrecked by global warming, the United Nations warned yesterday. The snowfall in relatively low-lying mountain areas will become increasingly unpredictable and unreliable as temperatures rise over the coming decades, according to research by the University of Zurich.
( Financial Times, Times, Daily Mail, Guardian )

Friend's baffled by student's fate in Iraq
Three months ago 21-year-old student Urslaan Khan was a familiar figure on the streets of Manchester, handing out protest leaflets against the war in Iraq. Now he sits in prison in northern Iraq accused of trying to join a terror group fighting the US-led forces. His parents are as baffled as his fellow members of Manchester University's Islamic Society as to what led the softly spoken student of Arabic to travel there. US and British authorities are investigating who arranged his recent trip, which took him from northern Egypt, through Syria and into Kurdish-controlled Iraq, where he was picked up during a routine patrol a month ago.
( Times )

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