Today's news

August 31, 2004

Scots physics pool to challenge Oxbridge
Scottish universities have begun to create a single physics "superdepartment" to compete with the scientific might of Oxbridge and Imperial, in a move that could revolutionise the way research is organised. An international panel met on Friday to consider the merits of the Scottish Universities Physics Alliance project, which its advocates hope will pioneer a strategy of pooling the research resources of a small country to match the increasingly cut-throat competition for ratings and funding. The verdict has not been made public but the scientists involved are confident of getting the go-ahead.

£40m Edinburgh centre for advanced computing
Plans for a new £40 million centre for advanced computing at Edinburgh University have been unveiled. The five-storey School of Informatics will replace the former departmental building destroyed in a fire 18 months ago.

Graduates find appetite for public sector work
Nearly a third of graduate job hunters applied to public sector employers last year. The Civil Service Fast Stream attracted 20,000 applications for its 300 positions, writes Martin Birchall, editor of The Times Top 100 Graduate Employers .

Students flock to study Middle East culture
Universities report that a rising number of students are opting for degrees in Middle Eastern studies. A survey shows that the war in Iraq has heightened young people's desire to understand the region.

A poisonous kind of justice
How US university professor Thomas Butler was framed for bio-terrorism when he discovered that vials of plague bacteria were missing from his Texas Tech University laboratory.

Higher education items in the bank holiday weekend press
- The Royal Society is to urge the United Nations to ban the cloning of babies. Daily Telegraph , August 30
- Research carried out at Sheffield University has revealed that more people over 50 are becoming homeless due to divorce. Daily Telegraph , August 30
- Education Secretary Charles Clarke has said that the top 5 per cent of 14-19 year-old students will get the opportunity to study part-time at top universities. Sunday Telegraph
- Grammar schools are concerned that they will have to cede university places to less well qualified comprehensive school pupils. Sunday Times
- More younger students are enrolling for Open University courses to avoid huge debts. Mail on Sunday
- The Forum of Private Business is advising students that most small businesses consider a degree irrelevant when recruiting. Independent on Sunday
- The British Medical Association has warned that there will soon be a shortage of academic staff to educate medical students. Independent on Sunday
- Universities are pioneering many new courses to attract students to engineering. Guardian , August 28
- Top British universities are second only to the US in the world league of higher education institutions drawn-up by the Shanghai Jiao Tong University's Institute of Higher Education. Independent on Sunday

Letters and comment
- The funding of sciences. Daily Telegraph , August 31
- Oxford University entrance exams, 40 years ago. Daily Telegraph , August 30
- The need for support in science. Independent on Sunday
- The only perk left for academics is a guaranteed pension. Financial Times , August 28
- American studies courses in the spotlight. Guardian , August 28

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