Today's news

March 26, 2004

Maniac dons offered cycle-safety lessons
Oxford University, stung by complaints from pedestrians, is offering its 12,000 staff, a quarter of whom cycle, free places on a cycle safety course. Gillian Evans, a Cambridge professor of medieval history who also lives and teaches in Oxford, agreed that dons "all ride like complete maniacs".
( Times )

Lecturers put off industrial action
Delegates at the Association of University Teachers' annual conference in Scarborough backed the leadership's call yesterday to suspend industrial action, and put the employers' new offer to the union's members in a four-week ballot. The news was welcomed by the university employers and the National Union of Students, which had supported the action by lecturers and academic-related staff in the old universities.
( Guardian )

Nottingham to open campus in China
The University of Nottingham has decided to join a £40 million project in Ningho, Zhejiang province, China. By 2008 more than 4,000 students from the campus will be graduating with Nottingham degrees. The students, who will begin enrolling in September, will initially be taught by academics flown out from Britain. Staff will be hired locally and internationally later.
( Times )

I would let Blair be destroyed over fees, says Kennedy
Charles Kennedy is willing to see Tony Blair's premiership destroyed before next year's expected general election as he joins manoeuvres to defeat the government on student tuition fees and force it to hold a potentially lethal referendum on the European constitution. The Liberal Democrat leader believes that defeat on "variable" university fees in the Commons next Wednesday could cripple the New Labour project. He called the current proposals "daylight robbery" and said the extra funds needed should come from higher taxes on the better off.
( Guardian )

Scandal of the campus dunces
Growing numbers of students are arriving at university without the basic knowledge of English and maths needed to succeed in their degree courses, academics have revealed. Duncan Lawson, professor of mathematics education at Coventry University blames the decline on a shift away from traditional A levels with final exams at the end of two years.
( Daily Mail, Evening Standard )

Hewitt defends Cambridge deal with MIT
Trade and industry secretary Patricia Hewitt yesterday defended a deal between Cambridge University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology following criticism by the National Audit Office that it was in breach of Treasury rules.
( Times )

Mosquito genes offer malaria hope
Scientists have identified a number of mosquito genes that allow the malaria parasite to survive and develop in the insect's body. The findings, from a team at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Heidelberg, Germany, open a new avenue of research in the fight against the disease.
( Times, Guardian, Financial Times )

Space telescope to see stars born 13bn years ago
British scientists are working on a telescope that will sail almost a million miles from Earth to peer across the universe at stars that first shone 13 billion years ago. A supersensitive mid infrared camera will be a key part of the European and American James Webb telescope, successor to the Hubble space telescope.
( Guardian )

University challenge
Why the fees debate is much ado about far too little.
( Financial Times )

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