Today's news

November 23, 2004

Chemistry suffers new setback
The study of chemistry at university suffered a fresh setback yesterday when Exeter announced plans to axe its degree courses. Steve Smith, Vice-Chancellor of Exeter, told staff that the university's music and Italian departments would also be abolished. Other subjects, including engineering and pure mathematics, would suffer job losses as part of a £3 million restructuring programme. Exeter's decision to close its chemistry department comes despite a surge in popularity for its courses among students. Applications rose by 21 per cent last year, against a national decline of 8 per cent, and the department did not accept any students through the clearing system. The Royal Society of Chemistry said the field was being hit by a "domino effect" of closures and is raising concerns about Exeter's decision with Downing Street. Professor Smith said that the departments listed for closure had received only a grade 4 in the Government's research assessment exercise, rather than a 5 or 5*, which affected their chances of securing extra government funding.
The Times , Financial Times , Guardian , Independent

New web service for 'copy and paste' cheats
A new tool that makes it even easier for cheating students to "copy and paste" essays from the internet has been launched by the world's biggest search engine. Google Scholar allows anyone with access to a computer to search quickly through millions of academic papers, theses, books and university websites for key words. However, there are concerns that it could fuel online plagiarism. A study earlier this year found that one in four students had cheated by lifting passages from papers on the internet. Daily Telegraph

This is an emergency
It's beginning to look like a soundbite too far. Launched in a blaze of optimism and good intentions in Labour's 2001 manifesto, the NHS "university" has never quite shaken off the inverted commas or established its territory in the fertile, fiercely contested borderland between the health service and higher education. Its future is now in doubt, as ministers and civil servants digest a review of its structure in the wake of criticism that the NHSU lacked focus and no one quite knew what it was doing for the £50 million it has spent to date. A verdict is expected at the end of the month.
The Guardian

AstraZeneca in £75m link-up
British drug giant AstraZeneca plans to invest £75 million in Cambridge Antibody Technology, one of the UK's largest biotechnology companies, in return for taking a 20 per cent stake in the firm. The biotech will collaborate on nearly all its new research projects with AstraZeneca as a result of the deal. The companies will focus on treatments for inflammatory and respiratory diseases such as asthma.
The Guardian

The biggest fishing trip of all time
A billion-dollar survey of the world's oceans has so far pinpointed 38,000 marine species - and identified new fish at the rate of two a week. The census of marine life, a concerted effort by hundreds of scientists from more than 70 nations, is in effect the first hi-tech inventory of the world under the sea.
The Guardian

Britain's biggest dinosaur roamed the Isle of Wight
A fossil bone discovered 12 years ago in the Isle of Wight may belong to the largest dinosaur found in Britain, according to research. New analysis of the large vertebra, which is almost 2ft (74.5cm) long, has suggested that it belongs to a huge herbivorous dinosaur from the sauropod group that measured more than 65ft from head to toe. The bone was unearthed in 1992 on a beach between Chilton Chine and Sudmore Point on the southwest coast of the Isle of Wight by Gavin Leng, a local fossil hunter who has found several remarkable specimens on the island. Although it has been displayed at the Isle of Wight Museum for several years, its significance was not noticed until it came to the attention of Darren Naish, a postgraduate researcher at the University of Portsmouth, in 2000.
The Times , Guardian

Prince has last word as No 10 tells ministers to cool off
Downing Street had to intervene behind the scenes to try to defuse the worsening row between the Prince of Wales and senior Cabinet ministers. Ministers were told that if the controversy were mentioned they were to stick to the same mantra: the Prince of Wales would have the last word in a heavily trailed speech yesterday and that the matter was closed. The row was triggered by the publication of a private memo in which the Prince criticised the "child-centred" education system "which admits no failure" and deluded young people into thinking they could do any job from pop star to head of state without training.
The Times , Daily Telegraph

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