Today's news

July 8, 2004

Bursars blamed for debt crisis at Oxford

A major Oxford University benefactor last night hit out at the colleges' approach to investment after it emerged yesterday that half of them had plunged into the red. Sir Peter Lampl, who is believed to have given several million pounds to Corpus Christi College, said that he was dismayed at the "over-traditional" investment decisions of the Oxford colleges compared with their American counterparts. Sir Peter demanded that Oxford bursars dump their conservative investment strategies and urged them to invest further afield.
Times, Daily Telegraph  

Warwick's efficiency puts Oxford to shame  
The scale of wealth within Oxford University revealed yesterday puts the efficiencies of other universities into stark relief. In the absence of hundreds of millions of pounds of assets, Warwick University, at only 40 years old, has become the fifth most successful in the country. It has one endowment, which provided an income of £1.64m in 2002-03, and had a surplus of £4.72 million in the same year. Universities questioned again yesterday why the government continues to provide extra money to Oxford and Cambridge in the form of college fees, which Mr Blair has pledged to maintain until 2008.

Howlers of modern English usage
Will defusing a bomb necessarily diffuse the situation? Is it correct to pedal a bicycle or pedal ideas? According to the editors of the new Concise Oxford Dictionary , up to half of us do not know the answers. As part of compiling the 11th edition of the reference book, which is out today, researchers discovered an increasing confusion over simple words and phrases. The dictionary believes that the chief explanation is wider use of the computer spell check, which does not spot errors of meaning.
Daily Telegraph, Guardian

Islamic studies gain £2.25m lifeline
Professor Nasser Khalili, Britain's most influential collector of Islamic art, has given £2.25 million to Oxford University to enable the institution to set up a research centre for the art and material culture of the Middle East. The donation will be used to increase the number of teaching staff, broaden research into pre-Islamic Iran, pre-Islamic Arabia and Jewish art, and safeguard the teaching at Oxford of minority languages such as Aramaic. Jeremy Johns will be the first director.

Graduate salaries buoyant
Salaries for graduates remain buoyant at an average of £18,362, according to a report published yesterday by Graduate Prospects . Management consultancy positions command the highest mean salary at £22,418, followed by economists and statisticians at £20,030. Almost a fifth of all vacancies are for buying, selling and retailing positions, with recruitment consultancy particularly strongly represented.
Times Higher, Times 

Kroto speaks up for chemistry
Sir Harry Kroto says that the Government must be prepared to pay the real cost of educating scientists and engineers and that the Higher Education Funding Council for England must stop vice-chancellors diverting money earmarked for science to fund the teaching of oversubscribed soft subjects with poor career prospects and negative value to the nation. He emphasised that scientists and engineers are almost the only groups that provide positive payback on investment.
Independent  (special chemistry supplement)

£400K awarded to autism research
The Medical Research Council has awarded £400,000 to a team of researchers from Bristol University to find out more about the role of environmental risks in the development of autism and autism spectrum disorders.

A minnow among minnows
Australian scientists have discovered the world's smallest fish. The stout infantfish, or Schindleria brevipinguis , has no teeth, fins or scales and lives for about two months. The male grows to a maximum length of 7mm, 1.6mm shorter than the previous record-holder, and weighs just one milligram.

Germans hail fossil record
Scientists have unearthed Germany's largest find of dinosaur fossils, including some that might belong to an unknown species, researchers said yesterday. They believe the 130-million-year-old bone fragments come from species related to Velociraptor and Deinonychus .
Daily Telegraph

Peat bog gases 'accelerate global warming'
Global warming is set to dramatically worsen because of huge amounts of carbon dioxide being released from the world's peatlands, a study by researchers from the University of Wales in Bangor, published in the journal Nature , has found.

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