Today's news

February 28, 2005

Universities say maths Highers don’t add up
Scottish universities are being forced to offer remedial classes to students who lack basic skills in mathematics. Edinburgh, Glasgow Caledonian, Strathclyde and Dundee universities are having to offer drop-in help sessions, personal tutorials and computer packages designed for schoolchildren to undergraduates who have no grasp of even basic algebra. Academics claim that “trendy” teaching methods and the “dumbing down” of Higher grade maths has left school leavers with A and B passes unable to cope with university courses in maths, physics, computer science and engineering.
The Times

Lib Dems plan abolition of tuition and top-up fees
Liberal Democrats will be the only one of the three main parties to go into the general election promising to raise income tax. A new 50 per cent top rate of tax on every pound earned over £100,000 will be a key plank of the party's alternative Budget, to be unveiled today. The taxes will fund the abolition of university tuition and top-up fees, the introduction of free personal care for the elderly and provide a subsidy to keep down levels of a new local income tax, to replace council tax.
The Daily Telegraph

Lecturers merger prompts race concerns
The race equality record of the largest lecturers' union, Natfhe, runs the risk of being smothered if a merger with the Association of University Teachers goes ahead, warns an AUT senior official. After a chequered relationship, the AUT and Natfhe are now negotiating a merger - and they are so excited they risk losing sight of what really matters, according to AUT vice-president Gargi Bhattacharyya.
The guardian

Executives are enrolling for MBA courses in their droves
The executive MBA (EMBA), the qualification designed for senior managers and high-flying younger executives, is enjoying a surge in popularity. The market has increased by 31 per cent since 1995, according to the Association of MBAs. Individual colleges say their classrooms reflect this trend.
The Daily Telegraph

Bristol University studies secret life of moody cows
Once they were a byword for mindless docility. But cows have a secret mental life in which they bear grudges, nurture friendships and become excited over intellectual challenges, scientists have found. Christine Nicol, professor of animal welfare at Bristol University, said even chickens may have to be treated as individuals with needs and problems. “Remarkable cognitive abilities and cultural innovations have been revealed,” she said. “Our challenge is to teach others that every animal we intend to eat or use is a complex individual, and to adjust our farming culture accordingly.”
The Times

Scientist gets US grant for germ warfare vaccine
A British scientist is developing the first single stable vaccine against the use of botulism as a biological weapon. The United States Government will today announce a $3.5 million (£1.8 million) grant to fund the cell biologist Dr Bruce Roser to apply a ground-breaking new vaccine technique to botulinum toxins, the most poisonous substances known to man.
The Daily Telegraph, The Daily Mail

Pacemaker 'cure' for depression
Scientists claim to have developed a "brain pacemaker" that can cure depression through an electronic stimulus. The discovery raises hopes for thousands for release from depression by drilling holes into their skull and attaching electrodes to the brain which create a brighter mood. But psychiatrists warn such "surgery" is a drastic measure that must be used with caution.
The Scotsman

Time out for bad behaviour
Muslim women are using the time away at university to go wild.
The Guardian

From the weekend's papers:

Saturday

  • Students to sue over closures. Dozens of students plan to seek damages against Exeter University over its decision to close its chemistry and music departments. The students, who have obtained legal aid, and are being supported by Parents against Cuts at Exeter, have accused the university of a breach of contract. The Daily Telegraph
  • Visa charge. Hundreds of international students marched to Westminster this week to highlight the problems they encounter while studying in this country. The Guardian
  • Oxford University has withdrawn "snobbish" advice to admission tutors after it was caught discriminating against students from former polytechnics. The Guardian

Sunday

  • City tempts teens with gap-year cash. Companies are targeting school pupils as young as 15 with the offer of gap-year “scholarships” and funding for university ahead of the introduction of tuition fees next year. Sunday Times
  • Napier University sells off campus. Napier University has sold part of its Redwood Campus in Edinburgh for £1.8m to the property developer, Applecross. The site covers 10,000 sqm, much of which will be developed as luxury flats. The Scotsman
  • Scientists who lost Beagle plan another shot at Mars. The scientists who built and lost the Beagle 2 space probe have unveiled an ambitious plan to land three far larger versions of the craft on the red planet. The Times
  • King's College Cambridge has helped to sustain British radio. The Sunday Times

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