Today's news

July 21, 2005

Universities may have to give security forces details of students
Universities could be forced to hand over details about student applicants to the security services as part of a crackdown in the wake of the London terrorist attacks. The Foreign Office has confirmed that a voluntary vetting scheme, under which universities alert the authorities if they believe overseas applicants are suspected of plans to develop weapons of mass destruction, could be made compulsory. A spokesman for the Foreign Office said that the scheme, which was introduced in 1994, was now under review and that universities could soon be obliged to pass on information about applicants who are deemed to be suspicious.
The Scotsman

Brunel staff members served with redundancies
Brunel University confirmed today that two members of its staff have been issued with compulsory redundancy notices as the institution presses ahead with plans to boost its research output. The redundancies were swiftly condemned by the Association of University Teachers, which has been fighting an increasingly bitter war against Brunel management since the university announced last September that it intended to make redundant up to 50 "non-research active" staff.
The Guardian

Scotland to levy English students
Annual tuition fees for English students studying at Scottish universities are to rise by £500 from the autumn of 2006. The increase, announced yesterday by the Scottish Executive, is aimed at ensuring that Scottish-domiciled students do not lose out to English counterparts trying to avoid variable tuition fees that will come into force south of the border at the same time next year. Under the new arrangements in England, universities will be able to charge students up to £3,000 a year in fees, payable after they graduate. In Scotland, the amount students from England and the rest of Britain will have to pay upfront will rise from the £1,200 to £1,700 a year. There are about 19,000 students from England and other parts of Britain studying in Scotland.
The Times, The Scotsman

£1,000 bursaries for poor students
Students from poor families will be offered an average of £1,000 a year in university bursaries once higher tuition fees are introduced in 2006. The first annual report from the Office for Fair Access, which is responsible for agreeing and policing agreements that allow universities to charge undergraduates up to £3,000 a year, showed that all institutions charging the maximum had promised to offer bursaries higher than the £300 legal minimum. Some were offering as much as £3,000 a year, but a typical bursary for students from the poorest homes would be worth £1,000.
The Financial Times

University sells Aids drug rights for $525m
Emory University has sold the royalty rights for an Aids drug it developed for $525 million (£300 million), marking one of the biggest payments to a US university for intellectual property. The Atlanta institution decided to accept a one-off sum for its rights to the emtricitabine treatment, marketed as Emtriva, rather than continue collecting royalties throughout the drug's commercial life. James Wagner, president of Emory, said the agreement with Gilead Sciences and Royalty Pharma reflected a new trend towards universities cashing in on royalty rights to intellectual property rather than waiting for uncertain future returns.
The Financial Times

Animal militants set fire to Oxford boathouse
Animal rights extremists are claiming responsibility for an arson attack on an Oxford University boathouse that caused an estimated £500,000-worth of damage. The attack comes after it was revealed last month that activists had unleashed a campaign of arson in a return to tactics of the 1980s in response to the Government's attempts to clamp down on their activities. In the latest assault, 24 rowing boats were destroyed and much of the interior of the Hertford College boathouse at Oxford University was damaged after arsonists broke into the riverside building and poured about 11 litres (2.42 gallons) of petrol over the property inside.
The Guardian

Europe 'could face IT skills crisis'
Europe could be facing an IT skills crisis by next year as fewer graduates come into the profession and the type of corporate IT personnel needed by companies shifts rapidly, according to a new report. Forrester Research, the technology consultancy, said many European countries were now struggling to generate a "respectable level of enthusiasm" for computer sciences among young people entering higher education.
The Financial Times

Ear recognition may beat face biometrics
Ear-shape analysis could be better than face recognition at automatically identifying people. Mark Nixon, a biometrics expert at Southampton University, has developed a technique to capture the shape of an ear and represent it in code. Unlike faces, ears do not change shape over time. In an initial study using pictures of the ears of 63 people, Nixon and his colleague David Hurley found their method to be 99.2 per cent accurate. Nixon thinks this could be improved.
New Scientist

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