Today's news

September 21, 2005

Oxford may cut undergraduates to save £200m
Oxford university is planning sweeping reforms to close a £200 million funding gap and preserve its world-class reputation. Academics will be told that Oxford cannot maintain its international standing unless it cuts losses on undergraduate teaching and improves income from research. Undergraduate numbers may be cut and loss-making departments will come under increased pressure to improve their performance as part of a “corporate plan” published tomorrow. It makes clear that Oxford’s problems over the next five years will not be resolved by the rise in student tuition fees to £3,000 a year from 2006.
The Times

Student leader suspended in row over Islamist debate
Middlesex University has suspended the president of its student union and revoked his studentship until further notice after he refused to cancel a debate with the controversial Islamist group Hizb ut-Tahrir. The union was ordered to cancel the debate at the end of last week but refused, with the president of the student union, Keith Shilson, arguing that it should be allowed on the grounds of freedom of speech. He claims the group, which is considered by some to be extremist and was proscribed by the prime minister last month, is a non-violent organisation.
The Guardian

Shortfall in volunteers for university redundancy
A voluntary severance scheme at Glasgow University has failed to meet its target, prompting fresh fears of compulsory redundancies. University officials had hoped that 280 members of staff would sign up to the voluntary package, which ended last Friday. But a meeting between university officials and unions yesterday heard there had been "a shortfall" in the number of employees who have accepted the deal.
The Scotsman

Poor students' university scheme lacks impact
A government scheme to encourage more students from poor backgrounds to go to university has failed to have a significant impact, according to an official report. The evaluation of the Aimhigher: Excellence Challenge programme found no evidence that it had made the poorest teenagers more likely to want to go to university. The interim report, by the National Foundation for Educational Research, said it was impossible to say whether the long-term benefits of the scheme would outweigh the costs. Ministers have spent £422 million on the scheme since it was set up in 2001.
The Guardian

NUS cleared of anti-semitism claims
The National Union of Students was yesterday cleared of failing to tackle anti-semitism against its members, but criticised for not having rigorous complaints procedures in place and reacting too slowly to allegations. The judgment came in the report of an independent inquiry commissioned in the wake of the resignation of three Jewish students from the union's national executive and steering committee at their conference in the spring.
The Guardian

Researchers inflict pain in hope of easing suffering
Scientists will open a new frontier today in their understanding of one of life's most basic processes: pain. A research unit will, within tight ethical limits, shock, heat and poke people in an attempt to understand how the human body produces that hurting feeling. Given that most people feel pain of some kind nearly every day, scientists are surprisingly still in the dark about how the process works. The new multimillion-pound pain clinical research hub at King's College Hospital in London will use state-of-the-art imaging techniques to look inside the brains and nervous systems of people suffering from pain. The aim is to discover fresh ways to measure pain and work out the effectiveness of current treatments.
The Guardian

Hogg researchers receive funding boost
Scottish literary academics from Glasgow and Stirling universities have been awarded £158,000 in funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council to re-work the writings and music of acclaimed Scottish writer James Hogg. Kirsteen McCue, a member of the Department of Scottish Literature at the University of Glasgow, will work with Douglas Mack, from the University of Stirling's Department of English Studies, on the three-year project.
The Scotsman

Letter
Regarding whether universities should warn of courses that have scant employment opportunities.
The Daily Telegraph

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