Today's news

July 28, 2005

Union launches online attack against Brunel
The Association of University Teachers has stepped up its campaign against Brunel University by launching a series of online adverts aimed at damaging the university's recruitment drive. Potential students searching for Brunel University on the search engine Google will find an advert linking to the union's website condemning the university's employment practices. The action is in response to plans to cut jobs to make the university more research-focused. Last week the university began issuing staff with compulsory redundancy notices. 
The Times Higher Education supplement (July 29)

The worthwhile degrees
A degree is a worthwhile investment, increasing a man's earnings by 113 per cent and a woman's by 131 per cent over those with no educational qualifications, a National Institute study shows. Maths, computing and medicine are among the most lucrative degrees but top of the earnings bracket is a degree in accountancy. On average, a male graduate can expect to earn £141,000 net more than a man who ends his education with two or more A levels. Arts subjects give students the lowest financial returns on their degrees.
The Times

Students face results delay as London Met row reopens
Degree results for up to 2,000 students at London Metropolitan University could be delayed by renewed disagreement between lecturers and management. No sooner had one of the longest-running industrial disputes in a UK university been settled on Tuesday by an agreement on contracts between the university and the lecturers' union Natfhe than the two sides were at loggerheads again. As union representatives were negotiating the deal to end the 15-month dispute, its 650 members received a letter from the university's director of human resources, Lyn Link, saying they would lose 80 per cent of their pay for the past 10 weeks if they had taken part in industrial action. 
The Times Higher Education supplement (July 29), The Guardian

New degree of difficulty for university leavers
A record number of students graduated from British universities this summer, estimated to be at least 250,000. That’s almost 50,000 more than did so ten years ago, and with the Government’s ambitious plan for at least half of all school leavers to continue on to university by 2010, graduate numbers are certain to continue rising in the years ahead. This unprecedented supply of new degree-holders means that many more graduates are now available for the job market and seem poised to dominate entry-level jobs in a wide range of industries and business sectors. It seems incredible, then, that several major employers have recently taken the decision to abandon their graduate recruitment programmes.
The Times

Oxford's new boy is only 14
A 14-year-old boy who came to Britain from China two years ago with little knowledge of English has gained a place at Oxford University. Yinan Wang follows in the footsteps of Ruth Lawrence, who began a maths degree at Oxford aged 12, and Sufiah Yusof, who started at 13 but ran away after two years. Yinan, who lives in Swiss Cottage, North London, received a conditional offer to study materials science at Corpus Christi.
The Times, The Evening Standard

Europe elects a research council
It has been a long road, but Europe has now named the scientific advisors of the first basic research funding agency to stretch across the continent. The European Research Council will be the area's first international funding agency for basic research in all fields, including the social sciences and humanities. "It will be like the Champions League, which raises the standard in soccer. So shall the ERC raise the standard of scientific research in Europe," says Robert May, president of Britain's Royal Society and now member of the ERC.
Nature

Document 'DNA' can outfox forgers, say researchers
A unique natural “fingerprint” present on documents and plastic cards could provide a cheap way to fight fraud. British scientists have found that a laser scanner can read microscopic imperfections on paper or plastic surfaces that are almost impossible to modify or forge. These provide a signature when exposed to the laser, say researchers at Imperial College London, Durham University and the University of Sheffield.
The Times

Fishy way to beat sunburn
Eating Scottish salmon can prove an effective weapon against sunburn, according to scientists. A new study has revealed that fatty fish like salmon can help holidaymakers avoid serious skin problems because it contains a natural defence to the sun's UV rays. The researchers found that fatty acids known as Omega 3, which are found in salmon, herring and trout, act as a natural shield against the sun's radiation.
The Scotsman

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