Today's news

August 9, 2004

Ucas dismisses cash crisis claims
The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service has dismissed claims that it is facing a financial crisis over a £7 million lawsuit launched by a former commercial partner. Anthony McClaran, chief executive of Ucas, said he had no intention of going "cap in hand" to the universities since the finances were in good shape. The organisation's operating surplus would be "comfortably in the region of £1 million" for 2003-04 while Ucas's commercial arm was set to make some £2 million profit, he said. It also had cash reserves of £3.7 million.
Financial Times

British Chernobyl scientist expelled from Belarus
Alan Flowers, an academic at Kingston University, who has studied the Chernobyl nuclear disaster for more than 10 years, has been placed on the Belarussian KGB's "forbidden persons list" and banned from the country for five years. Dr Flowers was expelled from the former Soviet republic last weekend, just a few weeks after arriving for a lecture tour on an invitation from the state university. He believes the move is an attempt to gag him because his research could have the potential to embarrass past and present governments.
Reported in last week's  Times Higher: Belarus sends Brit packing

Accommodation uncertainty at Lancaster
Jarvis, the support services group, is facing possible delays to the delivery of about a third of the new rooms it is due to hand over to Lancaster University next month in readiness for the start of the autumn term. The university said it had postponed the demolition of accommodation blocks containing 600 empty rooms "should they be needed". Last week Jarvis revealed a pre-tax loss of £246.7 million in the year to March.
Financial Times

Stammering library set up at UCL
The world's first audio library of stammered speech has been established at University College London, promising more effective therapies for the three million people affected by the condition in Britain. The project was funded by £1.25 million in grants from the Wellcome Trust.
Times, Guardian

'Lost' Virginia Woolf essay to be published
An essay by Virginia Woolf about London life in the 1930s is to be published after it was discovered in the archives of the University of Sussex by London publisher Emma Cahill. Woolf wrote six articles for Good Housekeeping between 1931 and 1932, based on her perceptions of her native city.
Daily Telegraph

Pain can be all in the mind, research finds
Physical pain really can begin in the mind rather than the body, an innovative brain imaging study has found. Research by scientists at University College London has shown that people who are told to feel pain while under hypnosis have similar patterns of brain activity to those who experience real painful stimuli.

Girls better equipped to overcome premature birth
Babies born very prematurely still show smaller brain size eight years later, American scientists from Stanford, Yale and Brown University medical schools have discovered. The effect seems to be worse for boys than girls, and could explain why the problems suffered by pre-term infants are greater for boys than for girls.

Higher education items in the weekend press
- Leading historian David Starkey says that the scramble for foreign students is destroying our academic reputation. Observer
- The cost of borrowing for university living expenses is coming down. Observer
- Feature on a lecturer ruined by a discrimination accusation. Sunday Telegraph
- Total outstanding student debt in the UK rose by eighteen per cent last year to more than £14 billion. Guardian , August 7

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