Today's news

May 17, 2005

Oxford dons oppose individual reviews
Oxford dons are resisting moves to introduce individual performance reviews in a stand-off with John Hood, the university's new vice- chancellor. In a debate today, senior academics and academic-related staff will argue that intellectual freedoms are under threat from Mr Hood's plan for the colleges and the university to assess jointly individuals and "address under-performance". The proposal, part of a drive to make academic standards "more consistently rigorous", was in a green paper on Oxford's future, published in January.
The Financial Times, The Guardian

Britain a leader in making research available on web
Britain is in the vanguard of the drive to make academic research freely available to anyone over the internet, according to new research. Creating online archives of research already published in traditional journals is part of a move towards open access in academia, a movement backed by scholars and charities including the Wellcome Trust. While the United States has more open-access archives - 1 - than any other country and Britain is second with 54, Sweden has the most archives relative to its population. By this measure, Britain is third and the US is in 10th place.
The Guardian

Robbers taunted and stabbed 'rich' student
Two men who kidnapped an Oxford undergraduate, taunted him over his "rich" lifestyle and stabbed him, were jailed yesterday. Dean Couling, 21, and Vincent Wray, 26, asked James Halstead, a 19-year-old biochemistry student, for the use of his mobile phone and snatched it when he refused. Mr Halstead followed and confronted the men who then demanded money and held a blade to his neck, Brendan Davis, prosecuting, told Oxford Crown Court.
The Daily Telegraph, The Times

Koreans link with Scots in £18m deals
A fledgling Scottish firm and the University of Aberdeen have firmed up two multi-million research deals with South Korean partners - the first of what are hoped to be many such arrangements to be forged with the Asia Pacific country. The university will receive £2 million in the first year, in a six-year commitment, with the potential to extend for another three years, putting the total potential investment in Scotland at £18 million.
The Scotsman

Kennedy reshuffles his key players
Charles Kennedy appointed new health and education spokesmen yesterday and promoted several of his rising stars as he tried to recover momentum after the Liberal Democrats’ mixed fortunes in the general election. Ed Davey was appointed party spokesman for education, which has been one of the Lib Dems’ strongest policy areas thanks to their opposition to university tuition fees and former policy of a penny on income tax to raise money for schools.
The Times

College staff attack job cuts plan as 'slap in face'
A row broke out last night after it emerged that a college which gave its principal a 43 per cent pay rise last year is now planning a process of voluntary redundancies. Staff at West Lothian College in Livingston have reacted angrily to the move, which comes less than a year after Sue Pinder, its principal, saw her salary and pension package boosted by more than £30,000.
The Scotsman

S Africa to downgrade English in schools
Parents and teachers across South Africa reacted with fury yesterday to a government proposal to downgrade English from a compulsory to an optional subject in schools. Naledi Pandor, the education minister, is expected to announce the reforms in a speech to parliament today. Reports suggest she will make English optional while a subject of "life orientation" will become compulsory.
The Daily Telegraph

Climate change summit to begin
A group of scientists will meet in Bristol this week to discuss factors affecting melting of the ice sheets in the Arctic, and other issues related to climate change. The 1ACE (Arctic Climates and Environments) meeting is being coordinated by Dr Sandy Harrison from Bristol University and is taking place today and tomorrow at the School of Geographical Sciences. The meeting will discuss research in this field being done at institutions belonging to the Worldwide Universities Network – which has five members in the US, six in the UK, two in China and three in Europe – as well as other centres of excellence.
The Scotsman

'Magic egg' is cracked
The gravity-defying ability of the "magic egg", in which a hard-boiled egg stands upon its end after being spun on its side, has at last been explained by mathematicians.
The Daily Telegraph

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