Today's news

February 23, 2004


Wave of strikes to hit colleges this week
University lecturers begin a week of industrial action today over pay. Members of the Association of University Teachers voted decisively to take strike action over their 3.5 per cent offer, saying it would do little to address their chronically low levels of pay. Their industrial action will be supported by the National Union of Students, protesting against the government's plan for variable top-up fees. The AUT has called a strike throughout Britain on Wednesday, with separate action in Wales today, in England tomorrow, in Scotland on Thursday and in Northern Ireland on Friday.
( Guardian )

Ultimate equation is pie in the sky, says Hawking
Stephen Hawking, the Cambridge University physicist who suggested in A Brief History of Time that scientists were on the verge of discovering a "theory of everything", has changed his mind. We may have to make do with never understanding the universe completely, he says. His decision to abandon the hunt for a theory of everything is outlined in a paper posted online. In Gödel and the End of Physics , Hawking describes how ideas put forward by the late mathematician Kurt Gödel all but rule out a theory of everything.
( Guardian )

Jacobites survived first grenade
Archaeologists from Glasgow University believe they have unearthed the first hand grenade used on British soil. The iron grenade fragment was uncovered on the site of the Battle of Killiecrankie in 1689 and used by the English during their ill-fated clash with Jacobite troops near Pitlochry, in Perthshire, almost 100 years earlier than historians previously thought.
( Times )

Abstinence makes the food taste stronger
Food really does taste stronger when you are hungry, according to research at the University of Malawi. Students who went without breakfast detected sugar and salt at lower concentration when they were hungry than when they were not. No such change was detected for bitter tastes.
( Times )

Student orchestra calls tune at £50m weddings in India
When the University of Warwick Symphony Orchestra, an amateur orchestra consisting mostly of students, was asked to play at one of the most lavish weddings seen in India, the undergraduates thought it was a hoax. But three weeks later, the orchestra was performing for billionaire businessman Subrata Roy, the Indian prime minister, stars of the country's film industry and several national cricketers. The occasion was a week-long celebration culminating in the marriages of Mr Roy's two sons. The 100-strong orchestra agreed to play free on the basis that Mr Roy would pay for their travel, hotel and sightseeing trips.
( Daily Telegraph )

Higher education items in the weekend press
- NUS urges millions of students to join top-up fees protest. ( Mail on Sunday )
- European Parliament to probe 'fee discrimination' at Scottish universities. ( Sunday Times )
- Two-thirds of UK businesses think that university degrees have become devalued. ( Guardian , February 21)
- Estelle Morris reveals she would not have been able to fully support top-up fees had she remained education secretary. ( Daily Telegraph , February 21)
- Two thousand university lecturers go overseas each year because of poor pay. ( Independent , February 21)
- History isn't what it used to be: Schama slams academic historians. ( Independent on Sunday )
- Businesses tap into university expertise through the i10 scheme. ( Sunday Times )
- How the student debt repayment system can be used as a way to make money. ( Observer )
- How to make a gap year pay. ( Financial Times , February 21)
- Postgraduate courses in operational research have an excellent record for getting students into good jobs. ( Guardian , February 21)
Keyboards spell agony as repetitive strain injury spreads among students. ( Mail on Sunday )

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