Today's news

September 2, 2004

Women suffer £5k pay gap at UK universities
Women earn up to a quarter less than men at some universities despite taking the lion's share of recent promotions, according to new figures. Average pay for women lags behind that of men at every UK university. In the sector as a whole, women earn on average £30,500 a year - more than £5,000 less than the average for men. At many universities - including Leicester, Newcastle, Edinburgh, Glasgow, University College London and the London School of Economics - the gap is more than £8,500 a year.
Times Higher, Times

British Council official sacked over anti-Islam articles
A British Council official who assumed a pseudonym to write Sunday Telegraph articles attacking "the black heart of Islam" has been sacked. The government-funded body, which recently commissioned a handbook on Islam "to prevent ignorant comments about Muslims being made in [the] national press", said yesterday it had dismissed Harry Cummins, a senior press officer, after an internal investigation.

Scotland's funding merger crisis investigated
A plan to bring together the funding councils for higher and further education north of the border has met with strong opposition. Universities and colleges have united in accusing the Scottish Executive of trying to introduce a centralised planning council by stealth. Principals are adamant that this is a bad idea and are campaigning against it.

Jarvis rules out future university contracts
Jarvis, the construction and engineering company, has ruled out bidding for any more university halls of residence contracts after selling its teams that bid for accommodation projects and manage its investments in existing schemes. The group has experienced delays at its biggest university project at Lancaster University.
Financial Times, Guardian, Independent

Boys in Bluetooth
Students at Leeds University and Imperial College London are helping police with their inquiries into Bluetooth technology as a mobile tracking medium.

Simply the best
Why nearly half of all university students now come from colleges rather than from schools.

Fraud busters
A look at two towns, Bournemouth and Poole, that have managed to crack the problem of foreign students being lured to sign up to dubious English-language courses.

Odd signal from a galaxy far, far away
A radio signal picked up by a search for extraterrestrial intelligence marks the best candidate yet for "first contact" by aliens. The signal was traced to a point between the constellations Pisces and Aries, according to New Scientist magazine. The signal has been observed for only about a minute, not long enough to allow astronomers to analyse it in detail. For six years, the SETI@home project (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence), has used programs running as screensavers on millions of PCs worldwide to sift signals picked up by the Arecibo telescope, in Puerto Rico. David Anderson, the project's director, said he was intrigued by the signal but sceptical.
Guardian, Daily Telegraph, Times, Daily Mail

Breakthrough in battle to beat cot deaths
Researchers at Cambridge University and the Department of Public Health at the Greater Glasgow Health Board have come closer to solving the riddle of cot death with the discovery that more than half of all babies who die unexpectedly may have had problems in the womb. A study of birth records in Scotland shows that mothers who had a placenta defect were up to three times more likely to have a baby who later suffered cot death. Details of the findings are published in the New England Journal of Medicine .

Fears of decline in insect numbers
Britain's first organised count of bugs splatted by cars has produced evidence of a national decline in insects, or alternatively a Darwinian improvement in their skill at flying out of harm's way. The huge exercise in popular science organised by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, which recruited more than 40,000 people to check for corpses on their front number plates throughout June, recorded an average of one insect fatality for every five miles driven, well below expectations.
Guardian, Independent

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