Today's news

November 20, 2003

Less red tape on university funding

Universities are to face fewer diktats from central government on how they spend their funds, the Department for Education and Skills said yesterday. The decision was made in response to a report by the Better Regulation Review Group, led by David VandeLinde, vice-chancellor of Warwick University. The report said that the costs often outweighed the benefits of extra funding. Following yesterday's decision, money to develop 20 "knowledge exchanges" - designed to help build connections between universities and local businesses - will be absorbed into mainstream funding. "Golden hellos" to help recruit university researchers and fellowships to foster their careers are also to be channelled back into general funds, as well as capital funding for leading research institutions.
( Financial Times )
· Don't miss this week's edition of The THES for full coverage of the war on red tape.

MEPs vote for embryo stem cell research
Members of the European Parliament voted yesterday to allow European Union cash to fund research using stem cells from human embryos after a bitter debate on the ethics of the techniques. EU ministers will meet on December 3 to decide whether to follow the Parliament's line and lift the moratorium on stem cell research, adopted in September 2002.
( Independent, Financial Times )

Surgeons warn of face transplant race
Sir Peter Morris, president of the Royal College of Surgeons, urged surgeons not to compete in a "face race" for the first face transplant. Ethical, legal and moral issues as well as psychological consequences for patients and the families of donors needed far more investigation, as did the risks of the body rejecting skin, fat and muscle tissue, a report from the college concluded.
( Guardian, Daily Telegraph, Independent, Times )

Scientist says brain scans must remain private
One of America's top scientists is calling for a ban on insurance companies and other businesses gaining access to the brain scans of potential customers. Donald Kennedy, of Stanford University and editor of the journal Science , said that the information contained in brain scans was too personal to be allowed into the hands of big business. Earlier this week scientists announced that functional magnetic resonance imaging might detect people harbouring racial prejudice.
( Guardian )

Scientists pin down date of dodo's demise
The famously dead dodo may have hung on to life for longer than previously thought. According to a study by Andrew Solow of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts and David Roberts at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, the lumbering, flightless bird was consigned to the history books almost 30 years too soon. Their study appears today in the journal Nature .
( Guardian, Daily Telegraph )

MPs favour mixed degrees
Mixed degrees featuring either politics or economics came top of a Times survey of undergraduate degrees studied by the 658 MPs in the House of Commons. The most popular course was philosophy, politics and economics at Oxford University.
( Times )

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