Today's news

March 14, 2005

Biotech float could bring academics a £1m windfall
An academic venture developing new treatments for Parkinson's disease will this week announce plans to float on the Alternative Investment Market. Proximagen is seeking to raise about £13 million, and it could bring King's College London a £1 million cash windfall. Formed by the university's Professor Peter Jenner, Proximagen is hoping to sell nearly half of its shares for about £13 million, which would value the company at £30 million. It covers its administrative costs by selling services to pharmaceutical companies - making a small profit - and plans to use the funds raised to turn Professor Jenner's scientific projects into therapies.
The Guardian

Student loans call
The Higher Education Funding Council for England and the National Union of Students want the Government to make more money available for grants and loans or risk missing their target of getting 50 per cent of young people into university as students will be faced with huge debts for top-up fees.
The Times, The Scotsman

Alzheimer's drugs plan condemned
Experts in Alzheimer's disease have expressed their shock at proposals to deny key drugs to patients. Today the UK's top Alzheimer's researchers were gathering to discuss the proposals by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) at a conference at the University of Nottingham. About 100 experts are expected to vote in support of the Alzheimer's Research Trust's view that the guidelines are bad news for patients and carers and that NICE should reverse its recommendation or consider further evidence before denying drugs to patients.
The Daily Mail, The Daily Express

Only four out of 10 Britons say they are informed about science
The British may not care for genetically modified crops, but we do care about science, according to research published today. A Mori report reveals that eight out of 10 Britons think science makes a good contribution to society. Paradoxically, only 40 per cent consider themselves very or fairly well informed about science.
The Guardian

Nobel Scot warns study of sciences is in crisis
Scotland's only living Nobel Prize winner has warned that the nation’s scientific development is in crisis as a result of student loans and low educational funding. Sir James Black, awarded the 1988 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine, fears that not enough students are being encouraged to study science. His concerns were raised at the start of National Science Week and followed a nationwide survey which found the British public believes science remains important to modern society.
The Scotsman

Brain power
Higher education pays off well into old age, changing how the brain is used in ways that may protect against Alzheimer’s. Research by the University of Toronto, in the journal Neuropsychology, shows that such old people are better able to call up “mental reserves” to avoid dementia.
The Times

A genius, relatively speaking
Spoken with an extremely strong German accent, some of the words are not even recognisable in the 57-second broadcast - but the the expression "E=mc squared" is unmistakable. For the first time, a commercial CD of Albert Einstein explaining the world's most famous equation is available today, to celebrate the birthday of the most remarkable physicist of the 20th century.
Daily Telegraph

Glaswegians throw the R away
So fast encroaching is the English invasion on Scottish speech patterns that language experts believe the Glaswegian guttural "r", pronounced at the end of words, could be lost within a generation. Jim Scobbie, from the speech science research centre at Queen Margaret University College, Edinburgh, has been studying the accents of visitors to the Glasgow Science Centre. He has found that an increasing number of young Glaswegians are developing speech characteristics more akin to those of the English upper classes than Rab C Nesbitt.
The Guardian

Commenting that science facilities and standard of teaching is better overseas.
The Financial Times

From the weekend's papers:


University administrators voice management frustrations. A report from the Higher Education Policy Institute says there is still a debate about whether academics should be "aligned" with the goals of the institution or simply supported to get on with their research and teaching. The Guardian, The Times Higher Education Supplement March 11

Rent rise 'will price students out of city'. Plans for a £15-a-week rent hike at university halls will price students out of Edinburgh. The Scotsman

A steep rise in university applications this year will mean disappointment for a record number of students. The Daily Telegraph


Set our universities free. Privatisation may be the only cure for the blight caused by the state's dead hand, argues leading academic and thinker Colin MacCabe. The Guardian

Leading universities are to take thousands fewer students from independent schools as they try to meet Government demands to take more applicants from the state sector. The Sunday Times

Britain's largest owner of student accommodation, Unite Group, is expected to announce a £350 million joint venture with the Government of Singapore to invest in the fast growing sector. The Sunday Times

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