Today's news

February 19, 2004


Unions cry foul over hike in v-cs' pay
Vice-chancellors accepted pay rises twice as large as those offered to their staff, a survey has found. The heads of universities received rises of more than 6 per cent last year, taking the average vice-chancellor’s pay to £135,000. It follows a pay offer of just above 3 per cent to members of the Association of University Teachers, which the union described as derisory. It has vowed to take industrial action over the issue next week. The survey by The Times Higher found that Laura Tyson, dean of the London Business School, was the highest-paid head of institution, earning £315,000.
( Times Higher, Times )

Bristol suffers in row fallout
Bristol University has seen a fall in the number of applications to its courses after accusations that it was engaged in "social engineering" by lowering entrance grades for disadvantaged students. The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service said applications to Bristol fell by 5 per cent this year after a campaign by independent schools. Other universities with a fall in the number of applications included Nottingham, Durham and Derby.
( Times Higher, Times ) 

Accidental impostor bolts before China bluff is exposed
An Oxford University student sent to China last week on an all-expenses-paid lecturing trip arrived to find that the Beijing institution had mistaken him for a US professor with the same name. Matthew Richardson, 23, an engineering student, was approached by an Oxford contact for whom he does summer-school lecturing on maths about a trip to Beijing to lecture undergraduates on fairly basic mathematics. But MBA students studying for their doctor of business administration qualifications were expecting to be lectured on global economics by Matthew P. Richardson, a professor at the Leonard N. Stern School of Business, New York University.
( Times Higher, Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail )

Depression toll on the increase at Cambridge
Academic pressures are prompting increasing numbers of students to seek help, the head of Cambridge University's counselling service said yesterday. Mark Phippen said the service dealt with about 1,000 students last year. Most students had depression, but others were suffering from severe anxiety, eating disorders and other mental health problems.
( Daily Telegraph )

Gap year cash offer to working-class youth
Working-class teenagers who do voluntary work during their gap year are to be offered help with college fees or given cash to start up their own businesses, chancellor Gordon Brown said yesterday. The initiative aims to extend the scope of gap-year voluntary work, which has traditionally been the preserve of middle-class students, to young people from poorer backgrounds to help to broaden their horizons before a career or university.
( Times, Guardian )

Scientists accuse US of manipulating research
The Bush administration is guilty of misrepresenting scientific knowledge and misleading the US public, a group of America's most senior scientists claimed yesterday. The open letter from the independent Union of Concerned Scientists said the US government had manipulated information to fit its policies on everything from climate change to whether Iraq had been trying to make nuclear weapons. The letter was signed by 60 senior scientists, including 20 Nobel prize winners, such as the physicists Steven Weinberg and James Cronin and the biologists Eric Kandel and Harold Varmus.
( Times )

British team develops 'Black Death' vaccine
A vaccine for the bubonic plague, which killed millions in the Middle Ages and is now one of the deadliest bio-terrorism agents, may be available within a year as a result of a breakthrough at the Ministry of Defence's laboratory at Porton Down. The results of the large-scale clinical trials are expected to be published in a scientific journal in about a year.
( Times )

Dolly lab moves on to cloning human cells
The leader of the team at the Roslin Institute, near Edinburgh, that cloned Dolly the sheep says that the institute will be applying for a licence to clone stem cells from patients with motor neurone disease. The first aim, Ian Wilmut writes in New Scientist , will be to understand the disease better by studying what goes wrong in the nerve cells in the brain and spine to cause it. He adds that human cloning will have benefits first in understanding and only later in treatment.
( Times, Daily Telegraph, Independent )

Degrees? All aboard
Ministers are pinning their hopes on two-year degrees to get 50 per cent of people into higher education. But is the strategy actually working?
( Independent )

Mathematics supplement
How a postgraduate maths course could help you launch a stellar career.
( Independent )

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