Today's news

March 11, 2005

Row over funding demand for Open University
A row has erupted over funding for the Open University, the country's best-known distance-learning institution. Its senior management has warned ministers that it needs financial help if it is to avoid losing large numbers of students. Brenda Gourley, OU vice-chancellor, has told Ruth Kelly, Education Secretary, that the introduction of top-up fees for students - Labour's most contentious education reform - could deter part-timers. Higher education authorities have refused the OU's demands for millions of pounds in extra money that could save it from having to increase fees.
The Financial Times

UK research 'tied up in red tape'
Red tape could hinder the Prime Minister's vision of making Britain the world leader in embryonic stem-cell research, says one of the most eminent scientists in the field. Sir Martin Evans, who is acknowledged as the pioneer of stem-cell studies, yesterday expressed his fears that "overly zealous" bureaucracy would cause the UK to lag behind countries such as China and South Korea. Britain was "justifiably proud" of having led the way in developing regulation of embryo research, but "we are not much ahead of the game really because it has taken so long for the licensing to come through", he said.
The Daily Telegraph

Students embrace forensic science
The boom in forensic science degrees is attracting more students - including women - to science, but the courses are distrusted by employers and will not land many students jobs in the forensic science service, concludes a major report. The number of courses has jumped from 158 in 2002 to 373 and rising by 2004 - equivalent to a third of all chemistry courses. But the report also recommends that other sciences - faced with declining numbers and course closures - could learn a thing or two from forensic science in capturing the imagination of young people.
The Guardian

London Met lecturers renew action over contracts
Lecturers at London Metropolitan, one of Britain's largest universities, have called for a strike ballot and renewed their academic boycott in a dispute over new contracts. The university responded today with a statement criticising the union's "posturing". Disagreement has been simmering for more than two years since the 28,000-student institution was created by the merger of London Guildhall and the University of North London. Relations between management and the lecturers' union Natfhe reached a new low when lecturers who refused to switch to a new contract received dismissal notices. Low morale among staff has been revealed by a union survey.
The Guardian

Star power threatens UK research
Unless there is a change in the way research money is allocated, many university departments face becoming teaching-only departments. According to Paul Turner of the Council of Deans in the Nursing and Health Professions, the situation is "potentially very bleak". In January, the union for lecturers in new universities, told MPs on the Science and Technology Committee: "Whilst science and engineering courses and departmental closures in new universities often don't receive the same high-profile media attention as those in more research-intensive universities, they represent a vital strand in national teaching and research provision."
The Guardian

Pakistan admits rogue scientist aided Iran
Pakistan's Information Minister acknowledged on Thursday that a rogue scientist at the heart of an international nuclear black market investigation gave centrifuges to Iran, but he insisted the Government had nothing to do with the transfer. It is the first time the Pakistani Government has admitted that Abdul Qadeer Khan gave material to Iran, although it has said in the past that his criminal group sold technology and blueprints to several countries.
The Guardian

A tough call for university Scots
Teenagers have been warned they will face tougher competition to get into universities south of the border this year. Sir Howard Newby, the head of the higher-education funding body for England, predicted better A-level grades and an increase in the number of 18-year-olds will add to competition for courses. The warning follows concern of growing competition for places in Scottish universities due to top-up fees, due to be introduced in England next year.
The Scotsman

Plymouth University starts orchestra workshop
Young musicians in Plymouth are being invited to join a new youth orchestra for the city. Plymouth University and the Plymouth Youth Music Service hope to encourage musical talent with the orchestra, which is open to string, wind, brass and percussion players. Those interested, who should be aged 11 to 21 and of approximately Grade 5 level or above, can attend a free orchestra workshop at the university’s Davy Main Hall on March 19.
The Scotsman

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