Today's news

December 12, 2003

University chief lambasts Tories over fees
Terence Kealey, the vice-chancellor of the University of Buckingham, said the Conservative party's opposition to the government's op-up fee plan was "hypocritical, cynical, self-defeating, cheap and stupid". Mr Kealey said he knew from personal conversations that after Michael Howard's election as leader, the party high command spent 48 hours considering whether to drop its opposition to the fees. "They did not drop it because they thought it was the most popular policy they had," he said.
( Guardian )

Michael Arthur appointed as Leeds v-c
The internationally renowned liver specialist Michael Arthur has been appointed as new vice-chancellor of the University of Leeds, it was announced today. He will be the first comprehensive-educated vice-chancellor of a Russell group university. He is currently a member of the University of Southampton's strategic management team, has held research roles abroad and is a member of Hefce's strategic research committee. He will take up the post in September 2004.
( Guardian )

Vocational GNVQs to be replaced
The government's exam regulator yesterday announced the withdrawal of the General National Vocational Qualification by 2007 following a consultation exercise which found that few teachers and employers understand it and relatively few students are taking it.
( Guardian )

TV blamed for weak forensic courses
The popularity of TV programmes that glamorise crime scene investigations has contributed to a big increase in degree courses in forensic science with little chance of a job at the end of them, Clive Wolfendale, deputy chief constable of North Wales Police has claimed. He questions the worth of some courses, especially those allowing a combination of subjects.
( Times )

University launches own beer
Birmingham University this week launched its own ale - Old Joe's Winter Warmer. The beer is named after one of the university's leading landmarks, the 100m high Chamberlain clock tower, known as 'Old Joe' in memory of founder Joseph Chamberlain.
( Guardian )

Beagle 2 to reach Mars for Christmas
En route to Mars since June, the probe Beagle 2 is due to touch down on the Red Planet at 2.54 GMT on December 25, 2003. The event promises to spice up the seasonally tepid news bulletins as our best hope yet for establishing whether life has existed beyond Earth.
( Times )

Pollution yields the perfect Christmas tree
Christmas trees are growing shorter, fatter and bushier because of air pollution in the countryside, a study by scientists at Cambridge University has found.
( Times )

Scientists find sobering evidence of drinking gene
The genetic secret of how alcohol makes us drunk has been discovered by US scientists, paving the way for the development of new drugs for treating alcoholism. The findings, from a team at the University of California San Francisco, are published today in the journal Cell .
( Times, Guardian )

Fridges linked to Crohn's disease
Refrigerators may be to blame for the rise of Crohn's disease over the last 50 years, researchers claimed in The Lancet yesterday. According to Jean-Pierre Hugot, from the Robert Debre Hospital in Paris, common bacteria that survive in chilled food could cause the painful inflammatory bowel condition.
( Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail )

Generation gap closes as 'toyboy' weddings increase
The incidence of "toyboy" marriages has almost doubled in the past 40 years. More than a quarter of all marriages now involve older women, according to figures released by the Office for National Statistics yesterday.
(Independent, Guardian, Times, Daily Mail )

SUVs double pedestrian danger
Pedestrians struck by sports utility vehicles are twice as likely to die as someone hit by a saloon car travelling at the same speed. The finding, reported in New Scientist magazine, will increase calls for the vehicles to be made safer.
( Financial Times )

Scientists see big role for uranium clean-up bug
The DNA of a bacterium which can help to remove uranium from contaminated groundwater has been sequenced by researchers at the University of Massachusetts in the US. Details are published today in the journal Science .
( Guardian )

Germans fed up with war legacy
Almost 70 per cent of Germans say they are annoyed at being held responsible for the Holocaust and many believe Jews use Germany's Nazi past to their advantage, a survey conducted by researchers at Bielefeld University showed yesterday.
( Guardian )

Pacific student's plea drifts to Spain
Peter Tebainea was a court clerk struggling with his law studies on the Pacific island of Butaritari when he stuffed a plea for help in a bottle and threw it into the sea. More than three years and several thousand miles later, the bottle has finally turned up on a beach in Cadiz, southern Spain. But acquaintances of Mr Tebainea said he was last heard of working on a ship. He, like his bottle, had gone to sea.
( Guardian )

Letters and comment
Lambert review on the right lines ( Financial Times )

Henry Gifford, professor of English at Bristol University, died on November 23 2003, aged 90. ( Times )

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