Today's news

October 13, 2005

International RAE judges announced
More than 50 overseas scholars who will judge whether research carried out in British universities really is world class are named today. They will work with the 15 main panels for the research assessment exercise 2008, the unique UK audit of the work of every research-active academic in the country. In May, a total of 900 UK academics were appointed to the 67 sub-panels, which cover individual subjects from medicine to music, biology to Byzantine studies and are responsible for the core work in assessing research submitted by universities and colleges, and making recommendations to the main panels. 
The Times Higher Education Supplement (Oct 14) , The Guardian

'Bureaucracy costing £250m a year'
Universities and the government's higher education funding body have an "appalling" habit of multiplying red tape and wasting money on bureaucracy, the head of a Whitehall taskforce will say today. Dame Patricia Hodgson, a former director of policy and planning at the BBC and chief executive of the Independent Television Commission, will use tonight's annual lecture of the Association of University Administrators to lambast micromanagement and creeping bureaucracy which she estimates is costing £250 million a year. 
The Times Higher Education Supplement (Oct 14) , The Guardian

High demand for graduates
Graduates remain in demand among British employers despite question marks over their basic skills at English and maths, according to a new report published yesterday, writes Jon Boone. The survey of 140 organisations showed that almost a third planned to recruit more graduates and half planned to take on a similar number to this year. Only one in six is going to cut back, the IRS Employment Review said. University leavers can also expect to be paid more this year, with a 3 per cent rise in starting salaries matching the "modest" increase in demand for their services.
The Financial Times, The Times

High rents force students north
Students in the south are paying more than twice as much in rent over the course of their studies as those in the north, research showed today. The average person at university in the south spends a total of £11,340 on a room in a shared house over three years, compared with just £5,184 for people in the north, according to classified website One in three students admitted that the cost of local accommodation was a major factor they took into consideration when they considered where to study.
The Guardian

China makes second manned space shot
China has launched its second manned space mission, securing its position as the world's third space power. Astronauts Fei Junlong and Nie Haisheng blasted off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in the Gansu province of northwest China at 1:00 GMT on 12 October, and entered orbit around the Earth some 21 minutes later. "It's very significant," says space scientist André Balogh of Imperial College London. "The Chinese have got big ambitions in space, and they obviously have the technology and motivation to achieve them."

Test 'predicts' how long women will remain fertile
Women will be able to gauge the ticking of their biological clock through a new fertility test that aims to predict how long they have left to have children. It has been developed by a leading fertility expert, Professor Bill Ledger, of Sheffield University, who warned earlier this year that the UK faces an "infertility timebomb" as career women leave it too late to conceive.
The Scotsman

Research suggests sugar aids restful night
If you want a normal night's sleep eat food high in sugar, according to researchers in Australia who looked at the effects of diet on sleep. Ahmad Afaghi of Sydney University gave men a meal with a relatively high glycaemic index - indicating how quickly it causes blood sugar to rise - they took an average of nine minutes to fall asleep. Those who ate a low GI meal took 17 minutes and 30 seconds. It is thought that, since high GI foods raise blood sugar levels, they raise the blood concentration of tryptophan, a chemical that induces sleep.
New Scientist, The Guardian

Female boxer knocks tradition on its head
Catherine Tubb combines brains with brawn: she is the first female president of the 100-year-old Cambridge University amateur boxing club. There has been some tut- tutting from the old guard about the appointment, but the 25-year-old postgraduate student is taking it all in her stride. Boxing is one of the oldest sports at Cambridge for which a full Blue is awarded and Catherine, together with her former clubmate Meredith Price, has notched up another first by becoming the first woman boxer to be awarded one after the club’s victory over Oxford in this year’s Varsity match.
The Times

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