Today's news

October 18, 2005

Part-time students will get 25% rise
Tens of thousands of the poorest part-time students are to get extra money to help pay university fees and meet rising living costs, ministers will announce today. The students' grant will rise by more than 25 per cent, while the money available through "hardship funds" will quadruple. The announcement follows growing concern among university leaders that those institutions with a high proportion of part-time students will lose when tuition fees for full-time courses start next year. The education secretary, Ruth Kelly, said yesterday that such students played a crucial role in higher education, and the proposed measures would ensure part-time undergraduate courses remained open to all.
The Guardian

University shells out to buy Shelley prank letters
Evidence of a student prank by the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley has been acquired by the Oxford college that expelled him, it was announced yesterday. University College Oxford and the Bodleian Library bought a series of letters in which Shelley - famously an atheist - apparently poses as a member of the clergy. The £37,000 purchase, made possible by a donor, secured the documents for Oxford's extensive Shelley collection. Shelley was expelled in March 1811 for writing a pamphlet on atheism after just two terms.
The Scotsman

British inventor asked to help build clockwork laptop
The British inventor whose clockwork radios brought the poorest and most remote parts of the world into the broadcasting age has been asked to help bring them computers. Trevor Bayliss has flown to America to help design and build a wind up generator for a new laptop computer that is hoped will bring the internet to even the most impoverished and far flung parts of the third world. Mr Bayliss has been asked by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to help build a laptop that costs only $100 (£56), then distribute it to hundreds of thousands of schoolchildren.
The Daily Telegraph

9,000 students go online for Napier form
A new online service that makes it easier to sign up to university has been used by almost 9,000 students. The matriculation service for students at Napier University has proved a huge boost for students with every one of this year's intake having used it to register. University bosses say the 100 per cent take-up rate means Napier continues to lead the way with online administration services as part of its goal of becoming the best modern university in Scotland.
The Scotsman

China’s pair of spacemen land safely
China's second crewed spaceflight ended successfully on Monday as the Shenzhou VI craft returned to Earth. Touchdown prompted celebrations and plans for an ambitious new mission in 2007, which will include a spacewalk. The capsule carrying Fei Junlong and Nie Haisheng parachuted down to a field in the northern Chinese region of Inner Mongolia to bring their five-day mission to a close, reported Xinhua, China's official news agency.
New Scientist

Call for scientific collaboration on bird flu
UK scientists should work alongside Chinese researchers in an effort to fight bird flu, researchers from the Medical Research Council said today. In a press briefing on the outlook for the disease, the council's chief executive, Colin Blakemore, told reporters that the MRC was "always looking at opportunities to support high-quality research". He said that the research could be based in the UK or abroad, and that a joint research facility "in China with the Chinese is a possibility".
The Guardian

British lecturer puts North Korean art in the shop window
A Yorkshire businessman living in Beijing has opened the first gallery dedicated to North Korean art, allowing a wider market for kitsch but striking "socialist realist" paintings from the secretive Stalinist state. Nick Bonner came to Beijing from Leeds Metropolitan University in 1991 to lecture on landscape architecture, but stayed to set up one of the few companies organising tours to North Korea. He has come to know the country so well that he has also been allowed to film two documentaries there. In the meantime he has accumulated a huge collection of North Korean art, from propaganda posters to traditional landscape watercolours.
The Daily Telegraph

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