Today's news

March 31, 2005

£2.5m announced to staunch flow from academic medicine
A £2.5 million initiative to counter a steep decline in the number of young doctors taking up careers in research or teaching medicine was launched today by the government. Ministers have backed recommendations in a report to set out a clear training pathway for doctors and dentists and to eliminate the roadblocks that deter them from taking up a career in academic medicine. The report, by the UK Clinical Research Collaboration, working jointly with the Department of Health's Modernising Medical Careers initiative, is a response to the rapid decline in the number of academic clinicians in the UK - from 4,000 in 2001 to only 3,500 today.
The Guardian, The Times Higher Education Supplement (April 1)

Replace student loans with grants, SNP says
With new Scottish graduates due to start paying contributions towards the cost of their degrees next month, the Scottish National party today called for all student loans to be replaced by maintenance grants. Scotland refused to follow England's lead in 1997 in charging tuition fees but introduced a graduate endowment charge, of £2,000, to be paid in either a lump sum or instalments after students completed their degrees and were earning £15,000 or more a year. England has since also abolished upfront fees but made students liable for much higher tuition costs, of up to £3,000 a year.
The Guardian

Financial crisis deepens for NUS
The National Union of Students is nearly £700,000 in the red, part of a financial crisis that its treasurer yesterday described as "the biggest issue" facing the union this year. The NUS is due to convene for its annual conference next week, and top of the agenda will be developing a rescue package to put the organisation back in the black. A money-making scheme based on exploiting the existing NUS discount card will be considered. The union's accounts, published on its website in advance of the conference, include predictions for its deficit in the upcoming financial year.
The Guardian

US bars Sandinista academic
More than 120 North American academics have begun campaigning to get the US State Department to change its mind about banning a leading figure from the Nicaraguan Sandinista revolution from teaching in the US. Dora María Téllez has been prevented from teaching at Harvard because she is considered to have taken part in "terrorist acts" - the Sandinistas' overthrow of the dictator Anastasio Somoza in 1979.
The Guardian, The Times Higher Education Supplement (March 25)

Dons fearful over Oxford's plans for Radcliffe Camera
The Radcliffe Camera, Oxford's iconic circular library, could be turned into a visitors' centre, dons fear. As rumours engulfed the dreaming spires, the university insisted yesterday that it was "committed to the increased integration of library services." Such opaque prose was enough to convince some dons that their fears were justified, though the university said no decision has yet been made concerning the Camera.
The Daily Telegraph, The Times Higher Education Supplement (April 1)

Virtual test for local market
The UK e-University may have failed to attract any students, but local initiatives by small groups of universities are expected to be more successful. A consortium of 10 universities, spearheaded by Strathclyde, plans to establish a virtual university for people in the Middle East. Aimed at Palestinians and others who cannot easily get access to higher education, it will be a useful experiment in how to set up an e-university slowly over time, using the expertise of local institutions and testing the local market by putting on one degree at a time.
The Independent

Enter the business of leisure
Traditionally, one of the biggest turn-offs to pursuing a career in the hospitality and leisure sector has been the unsociable hours. But according to new research by Springboard, the specialist careers and education service for the industry, a staggering 78 per cent of young people say they are willing to work weekends and a further 65 per cent are happy to work shifts. For many, flexible hours are preferable to the conventional nine-to-five slog. The report found that 69 per cent of respondents were eager to work with the public, whilst 42 per cent were not keen on being wholly office-based.
The Independent

Scientist working on life-extending pill
A scientist is developing a pill that could add 30 years to the human lifespan, it emerged today. Professor John Speakman has been awarded £450,000 to investigate how the hormone thyroxine can affect metabolism rates and rid the body of free radicals, thereby extending life. The University of Aberdeen has already identified that mice with a higher metabolic rate live longer, and more thyroxine in the body helps this. This in turn changes the biological process within mitochondria of cells where proteins are uncoupled.
The Scotsman, The Daily Mail

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