Today's news

September 12, 2005

Colleges to be urged to use Open University
Students of shortage subjects such as science or modern languages could soon be taking hybrid degrees based on Open University courses, under plans being consulted on this month. Chemistry and physics departments have closed at even top-performing universities over the past few years as it becomes uneconomic to sustain them, while courses in French, German and pure sciences are being terminated due to falling demand. This has prompted fears that students in some regions could be deprived of the option of studying these subjects, creating a vicious circle of shortages in teaching and research.
The Financial Times

Distance learning faces a hard lesson in economics
The Open University will be seriously damaged by the tuition fee regime and may not be able to maintain its pre-eminent position in e-learning, the vice-chancellor has warned. Full-time students in English universities will be charged up to £3,000 a year from autumn 2006, three times the current upfront rate but repayable only after graduate earnings reach £15,000. Part-time fees will not be deferred and institutions with a high proportion of mature learners taking courses while they work or bring up families - the groups the government wants to encourage into higher education - say these students will be put off if their course charges rise as steeply as the full-time fee.
The Financial Times

New chapter for library software
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem is to make about £4 million from the float of a library cataloguing software company, Ex Libris, that it founded 22 years ago. Jerusalem's main university will also retain a stake of just under 20 per cent, which is expected to be worth another £10 million. The company hopes to raise $15 million (£8 million) of new money in the Aim-listed float and is expected to be capitalised at around £60 million.
The Daily Telegraph

Celebrity obsession is turning nasty, academics warn
The glut of celebrity weddings this weekend encapsulated modern society's fascination with the private lives of the rich and famous. But today a conference of leading academics from across the world will hear how our obsession with celebrity tittle-tattle is far from a modern condition. Ever since silent movie stars canoodled on screen, commentators have warned they were leading young people into moral danger, Dr Philip Drake, of Paisley University, in Scotland, will tell delegates.
The Independent

Protests over honorary degree for Clarkson
BBC presenter Jeremy Clarkson will be met by student protests today as he is awarded an honorary degree from Oxford Brookes University for his "contribution to learning and society". Clarkson, who has ridiculed cyclists and environmentalists and questioned global warming, is described by the university as an "exemplary role model for the university's students". A spokesman for Transport 2000 said the award "was like Inspector Clouseau being given detective of the year award by the head of Scotland Yard. He doesn't deserve it." Clarkson was not available for comment.
The Guardian

Redheads not so fiery after all
The phrase “fiery redhead” may not actually be true after all, as scientists have proved that those with a ginger thatch - around one in ten of Scots people, Gordon Strachan, among them - are actually much more cool than anyone else. Researchers at Louisville University, Kentucky, claim that the “Celtic ” gene responsible for red hair makes ginger people more sensitive to temperature than those with dark or blond hair. The gene also means redheads need more local anaesthetic at the dentist than the general population, because they have a far lower pain threshold.
The Times, The Guardian

Letter
Regarding The Open University on adapting courses for use in the Middle East.
The Daily Telegraph

From the weekend's papers:

Saturday


University admission reform 'will help poor' - biggest reforms for 50 years. The Daily Telegraph, The Times, The Guardian

Southampton is dropping two courses in Jewish Studies. The Times

Students do not believe they should focus on business skills. The Financial Times

Sunday

The Environment Agency is giving financial aid to recruit a new generation of engineers. The Mail On Sunday

Greedy college chiefs are encouraging illegal immigrants by putting up false adverts for their schools. The People

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