Today's news

February 25, 2004

Cambridge accused of intimidating striking lecturers
Striking lecturers accused Cambridge University yesterday of making bizarre "death" threats to keep them off the picket lines. The Association of University Teachers, which has organised a week of industrial action across the country over low pay, said that, in an email to staff, Cambridge had threatened to deprive strikers' families of payouts if they died on the picket line. The AUT, which has teamed up with the National Union of Students in an attempt to bring the higher education system to a standstill, said that the alleged "dirty tricks" were "unprecedented in modern industrial relations".
( Times )

Royal Society reminds fellows of confidentiality
The Royal Society is to write to its fellows reminding them that its elections are supposed to remain confidential, after details of Baroness Greenfield's candidature were leaked this month. The scientific institution's ruling council said yesterday that it profoundly regretted the decision of some members to speak out against the controversial neuroscientist's nomination, and condemned their breach of the society's rules "in the strongest terms". It will not, however, hold a formal investigation into the affair in which several scientists threatened to resign should Lady Greenfield be elected this year.
( Times, Daily Telegraph )

Oxfordshire mud reveals face of forgotten emperor  
Experts at the British Museum have confirmed that a coin bearing the profile of a striking bearded man, that was unearthed in an Oxfordshire field by an amateur archaeologist, proves the existence of the Roman emperor Domitianus. The find will require the history of one of the Roman Empire’s murkier periods to be rewritten. The coin will be on public display from today until March 14 in the British Museum Buried Treasure: Finding Our Past exhibition.
( Times, Daily Mail, Guardian, Daily Telegraph, Independent )

Nobel prize taunt raises Gallic hackles
France's intellectual classes were stunned yesterday when a government minister told them to stop complaining and start winning Nobel prizes, like the Americans. The unfavourable comparison with the United States from Patrick Devedjian, minister for local liberties, amounted to blasphemy for the guardians of the supremacy of Gallic thought. It demolished a parallel attempt by Jean-Pierre Raffarin, the prime minister, to calm the anger of writers, scientists, teachers and artists, who are accusing the government of "waging war" on them. M Raffarin sought to soothe les intellos yesterday with a letter published on the front page of Le Monde .
( Times )

Striking a blow at bureaucracy
"Academic life is suffering a death by a thousand cuts. Every aspect of our profession is picked at by government interference, managerial bureaucrats, and empire-building administrators, clawing at power." Bristol University lecturer Martin Calder explains why his colleagues have been driven to take industrial action this week.
( Daily Telegraph )

Cost of being at university too much for some students
The price of student accommodation is rising well above inflation as universities throughout Britain lower their subsidies or allow private suppliers of accommodation to take responsibility. Competition for students from overseas and the conference trade has led to British students being priced out. A St Andrews University undergraduate, who cannot afford to stay there after her first term, gives her account.
( Daily Telegraph )

Telescopes need a far-sighted backer
The Chinese Ambassador was in Liverpool yesterday for an unusual ceremony. As Chinese imports flood into the western world, Liverpool is actually selling something special to China - the largest robotic telescopic in the world. Sadly, however, the company behind the telescope, is uncertain of its future. Telescope Technologies Ltd, an offshoot of the John Moores University, is in need of funding if it is to evolve. Efforts to raise private equity finance for the business have so far failed and the likelihood is that the company, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the university, may be subsumed back into the academic world and lose its separate corporate status.
( Times )

Obituary : Margaret Stacey, the sociologist whose passion for the rights of women and children took feminism in new directions, died on February 10, 2004, aged 81. ( Times )

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