Today's news

May 7, 2004

Students face 40% rent rise at Oxford
Oxford undergraduates face rent increases of up to 40 per cent after bursars scrapped historic cost of living subsidies. The increases this autumn, revealed in a survey by the Oxford Student , are part of a government-backed move to divert money into bursary funds for poorer students to cushion the impact of top-up fees in 2006. The move has led students to ask for larger maintenance loans.
( Times )

Oxford's future vision could upset colleges  
Oxford University is on a collision course with its constituent colleges as it pushes forward a radical academic strategy designed to maintain its reputation as one of the world's leading universities. Decision-making arrangements between the central administration and the largely autonomous colleges are being put to the test by ambitious proposals contained in a consultation paper that lays out Oxford's plans for the next 16 years.
( Times Higher )

Oxford Union's 'squalid oath' disappears
The last remaining evidence of what many see as the darkest day of the Oxford Union has gone missing. A framed copy of the order paper for the King and Country debate, in which students voted by 5 votes to 153 against fighting for the nation, used to hang behind the bar. It has been stolen, along with a large portrait of Gladstone, a former president of the Union. The police may be called in if the order paper is not returned.
( Times )

Female university staff face abuse
University managers are failing to protect female academics against abuse and intimidation from students, according to new research. A paper to be presented at the Women in Higher Education Network conference next week reveals that female academics have been subjected to physical attacks, stalking and heckling by students. In every case, the women reported inappropriate and often sexist management responses, the Nuffield Foundation-sponsored research says.
( Times Higher )

Study finds oceans of old plastic
Richard Thompson and colleagues at the University of Plymouth report in Science today that humans are filling the oceans with plastic. The spread of polymer waste has been reported before but now the scientists say that microscopic fragments are being found at sites all around the UK.
( Guardian ; first published in The Times Higher , 21 December 2001)

Hummingbird find causes a buzz
Fossils found near the village of Frauenweiler in Baden-Württemberg, Germany, suggest that hummingbirds, which are now found only in the Americas, may once have been common in Europe, Africa and Asia. Details of the birds are published today in the journal Science .
( Times, Financial Times )

Mountain forests as old as the hills
Scientists from Bristol University have discovered an extraordinary assemblage of giant fossil trees, in Newfoundland, Canada. They established that mountains were already covered with forests 300 million years ago. Because vegetation growing at high altitudes is rarely preserved as fossils, the formation of mountain forests has long been the subject of geological controversy. The research is described in the journal Geology .
( Financial Times )

Surgery can halve risk of strokes
A study of more than 3,000 patients in 30 countries has concluded that surgery can halve the risk of a stroke in people with significant narrowing of the artery carrying blood to the brain. The results of the European clinical trial are published in The Lancet today.
( Financial Times )

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