Today's news

April 27, 2005

Oxford dons blast reform plan
Academics at Oxford University are opposing plans to overhaul the way the institution is run. More than 100 senior staff question moves which they say will limit academic freedom. Politics don Gavin Williams, of St Peter's College, says vice-chancellor John Hood's plan for a small board of trustees, with strong corporate links, put jobs at risk and undermines academic values.
The Evening Standard

Part-time study could be cut
Universities face cutting hundreds of part-time courses because students will be unable to afford them. Vice-chancellors fear that part-time degrees will "wither on the vine" as universities turn to full-time education to fund the increasingly straitened sector. With more than 812,000 students, the part-time sector makes up 42 per cent of higher education students. From 2006, they will no longer be eligible for grants or bursaries and will have to pay increased tuition fees.
The Times

Inflation pressures threaten university viability
Inflation in universities is running at nearly 6 per cent as upward pressures on pay and prices threaten the long-term viability of the sector in spite of an increase in income. Official figures from the Higher Education Statistics Agency, released yesterday, showed income to all British universities rose by £1.2 billion in 2002-03 to £16.6 billion, with an operating surplus that had grown to £241 million. But Universities UK, the sector's umbrella body, said the funding agencies' own rules stated the surplus would need to be £507 million to provide a healthy cash flow for investment and development.
The Financial Times, The Guardian

Protesters try to handcuff Kelly
Protesters threw an egg at the Education Secretary Ruth Kelly and attempted to handcuff her during an election campaign debate, police said today. It is believed the men were protesters from campaign group Fathers4Justice. The minister had been due to start a question-and-answer session with rival political candidates from her Bolton West constituency last night when she was grabbed by two men. The incident happened shortly before 7.40pm during a pre-election talk at the St John's Methodist Church Hall in Victoria Road, Bolton, Greater Manchester.
The Independent

Some dismiss it as Bologna, but standard matching is key
The dominant items discussed at the European Universities Association meeting in Glasgow were all connected with the Bologna process. Potentially this process is hugely important: its primary purpose is to bring some order to very different university systems in Europe, to create a level playing-field in higher education. The intention is to offer roughly equivalent degrees at bachelors and masters levels by autonomous universities, a pattern familiar in Scotland but novel in places like Eastern Europe. Bologna for these areas constitutes a road map to change governance structures and enhance the quality of learning and teaching.
The Scotsman

Australian support for Brunel strike
Staff at Brunel University staging a one-day strike today over planned redundancies received a message of support from the Australian university once headed by its vice-chancellor, Steven Schwartz. In a statement, members of the National Tertiary Education union at Murdoch University in Perth pledged their "solidarity to union members at Brunel University engaged in industrial action to reverse management's decisions and actions concerning forced redundancies".
The Guardian

Financial row engulfs Queen Mary students
Students at Queen Mary, University of London have accused their university of attempting to "take-over" their union. The students' union admitted it was more than £800,000 in debt to college bosses. After a series of blunders four years ago it was revealed the union was around £400,000 in the red when both the union and the college believed it was £50,000 in profit every year. The next year the union borrowed a further £400,000 to rebuild the student village. Now the university is proposing to run the commercial and managerial aspects of the union, but insists it does not wish to take over the union's responsibilities to its members.
The Guardian

Ozone layer most fragile on record
The protective ozone layer over the Arctic has thinned this winter to the lowest levels since records began, alarming scientists who believed it had begun to heal. The increased loss of ozone allows more harmful ultraviolet light to reach the earth's surface, making children and outdoor enthusiasts such as skiers more vulnerable to skin cancer - a disease which is already dramatically increasing. Scientists yesterday reinforced the warning that people going out in the sun this summer should protect themselves with creams and hats.
The Guardian

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