AUT votes for union merger
A super union for further and higher education got its first official seal of approval from lecturers yesterday. At its annual conference in Eastbourne, the Association of University Teachers, which represents academics in pre-1992 universities, voted overwhelmingly to ballot members on whether to merge with Natfhe, which represents further education teachers and those in post-1992 universities. The ballot will be held in October. The merger is now subject to a similar vote at Natfhe's conference next month. Should members of both unions accept, the new union will be in place by June 1, 2006.
The Guardian, The Time Higher Education Supplement (April 22)
Lecturers to vote on Israeli boycott
Lecturers from Britain's leading universities will cast their votes today in a poll that threatens to split the academic world. They will vote whether to boycott three Israeli universities because of their alleged backing of government action in the occupied Palestinian territories. Union delegates will also decide whether to circulate a call from Palestinian academics and intellectuals for a blanket boycott of all Israeli academics unless they condemn the Israeli government's treatment of the Palestinians.
The Independent, The Guardian
Brunel lecturers announce one-day strike
Brunel academics have announced a one-day strike on Tuesday claiming they are being "bullied" into redundancy. The Association of University Teachers also announced that it will undertake more industrial action short of a strike until the university ensures members there will be no compulsory redundancies. The dispute, which began in September, is over plans by the vice-chancellor, Steven Schwartz, to cull jobs in a bid to re-position the university as a research-led institution in time for the next research assessment exercise.
Lecturers threaten to paralyse London Metropolitan University
Lecturers have warned they will bring London's largest university to a halt in a strike over working conditions. The long-running contractual dispute between London Metropolitan University and Natfhe shows no sign of being resolved. Now union delegates have voted two to one in favour of a stoppage in the next few weeks. Its ruling executive will decide next week when to stage the walkout. Natfhe has already staged two strikes in the year-long dispute, which it claims is the university's fault for trying to impose a new staff contract without negotiation.
The Evening Standard
C entral Lancashire appeals for student aid
A university head has angered his staff by asking them to donate money to help students make ends meet. Malcolm McVicar, vice-chancellor of the University of Central Lancashire, highlighted the top-up fee regime of £3,000 a year beginning in 2006 and asked academics to donate to a bursary scheme. The local branch lecturers' union, Natfhe, said its members supported students by their "dedication, excessive workloads and by having tolerated low pay for years".
The Financial Times, The Guardian, The Scotsman, The Time Higher Education Supplement (April 22)
War poets celebrated at Napier University
The work of war poets, who recovered from their injuries in Edinburgh, is set to go on display. An exhibition celebrating the lives of Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen is a step closer thanks to a £50,000 lottery grant - it is hoped that private funding will cover the rest. The exhibition will be housed at Napier University’s Craiglockhart campus, where Sassoon and Owen convalesced during the First World War. The show will include an online collection, war displays, audiovisual presentations and an audio archive.
Old stem cells can turn cancerous
Excitement about the potential of stem cells for curing all manner of ills is being tempered by two new studies that highlight the potential dangers. They show that even stem cells taken from adults can turn cancerous if they are allowed to multiply for too long outside the body. Researchers have long known that there is a cancer risk with stem cells extracted from very early embryos. Until they change into more specialised tissue, they can form aggressive cancers called teratomas when injected into animals.
Diabetes study raises cancer hopes
A drug commonly used to treat diabetes could help prevent cancer tumours, university researchers claimed. Tests by scientists at Dundee University suggest people with Type 2 diabetes who take metformin may reduce their risk of developing cancer by more than 25 per cent. The study was carried out by Dario Alessi, of the university's School of Life Sciences, Andrew Morris, Scotland's leading clinician on diabetes, and Josie Evans, an epidemiologist from the university's medical school.
The Evening Standard, The Daily Mail
Asking if it is students from state schools who are failing rather than our top 13 universities.
Regarding university admissions from disadvantaged backgrounds.