Today's news

April 25, 2005

Lecturers vote to boycott Israeli universities
A leading union voted to boycott two Israeli universities which it accused of being complicit in the abuse of Palestinians in the occupied territories. The Association of University Teachers voted to sever links with Haifa and Bar-Ilan universities, and said it would consider boycotting a third. The Board of Deputies of British Jews called the vote "blinkered, irresponsible and dangerous". Jocelyn Prudence, who heads the Universities and Colleges Employers Association, said: "This would appear to run contrary to contractual law, race and religious discrimination law, and academic freedom obligations, which are built into the contracts of staff in pre-1992 universities."
The Guardian, The Times

Muslim patrons bring touch of the East to museums
Wealthy Middle Eastern philanthropists are bringing eastern treasures and fabrics to a wider audience in Britain by funding a wave of collections of Islamic art at nationally important galleries. The Ashmolean Museum in Oxford is the latest beneficiary of the millions of pounds that have been donated over recent years by generous Muslim patrons. Prince Sultan Bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud, the Saudi Arabian Defence Minister, said his £2 million contribution would help to build a home for the Ashmolean's renowned Islamic collection. The gift is also funding ten scholarships for Saudi students at Oxford University.
The Independent

University expansion fails to help the poor, says study
The huge expansion of places at universities has failed to help the poorest members of society. That is the finding of a study that also says Britain has the developed world's lowest social mobility. Researchers at the London School of Economics said pupils from poor backgrounds remained trapped in the worst schools while the wealthy went on to prosper at university. The report, Intergenerational Mobility in Europe and North America, found that the success of UK children was much more closely linked to their parents' income when they were growing up than those in Canada, Germany, Sweden, Norway, Denmark or Finland.
The Financial Times, The Independent, The Times, The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph

Woman earns £100,000 helping students cheat
A woman who earns £100,000 a year helping students cheat their way to everything from degrees to PhDs has said she doesn't care if people think she is a 'degenerate'. Dorit Chomer, 50, lives a life of luxury by selling thousands of essays, papers and dissertations for fees ranging from £50 to £2,000. From a spare room at her £1 million home in Finchley, she controls an empire which has become one of Britain's most prolific sources of plagiarised material used by students from every walk of life.
The Evening Standard

Postnatal blues are prehistoric hangover
Postnatal depression is a throwback to the cavewoman era, it has been suggested. Experts from Edinburgh University have said that the condition, which affects thousands of women in Scotland, probably evolved as a genetic response to prehistoric conditions. The illness is a result of fluctuating hormone levels, which are naturally designed to cause an increased level of aggression after the birth of a child, according to Dr Simone Meddle of the university’s Centre for Integrated Physiology.
The Times

GM fears as human liver gene is put into rice
Scientists have begun mixing human genes with rice in an attempt to take genetically modified crops to the next level. Researchers have inserted into rice a gene from the human liver that produces an enzyme which is good at breaking down harmful chemicals in the human body. They hope the enzyme, CYP2B6, will do the same to herbicides and pollutants when combined with rice.
The Daily Telegraph

From the weekend's papers:


  • The Association of University Teachers has voted in favour of boycotting two Israeli universities. The Guardian
  • Members of Islamic sects have launched an all-out offensive at universities to convert young Britons. The Daily Star


  • An Israeli professor has been refused permission to speak at a conference of British academics who were debating a motion to sever all links with her university. The Daily Telegraph
  • The DfES hopes to change the admissions timetable to make students apply for university places after receiving their A-level results. The Mail on Sunday
  • The Interactive University has signed a groundbreaking deal to sell Scottish degrees to Chinese students that is expected to be worth at least £2 million. The Scotsman
  • The University of Sussex has been criticised for its new logo that looks like a pair of breasts. The People

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