Today's news

November 1, 2005

Southampton fire expected to cost £50m
The bill for damage caused by a fire that wrecked a leading computer and electronics research facility at Southampton University is likely to reach £50 million, it emerged today. The fire tore through the university's Mountbatten Building early yesterday morning, completely destroying a clean room for dealing with delicate optic fibres and a microfabrication room for constructing silicon chips. Staff in neighbouring offices do not yet know how much damage has been done to their work.
The Guardian

University spin-outs 'wasting money'
Universities chasing targets are creating too many technology companies and wasting government grants, the British Venture Capital Association has told the Chancellor. Writing yesterday to Gordon Brown ahead of his pre-Budget Report, due within the next six weeks, the BVCA said the commercial exploitation of ideas by academics was "an emerging success story". But its research found that many were being spun out too quickly, with the companies failing to attract enough private equity to give the business long enough to survive.
The Daily Telegraph

Lessons learned from collapsed UkeU
UK universities are becoming confident in delivering degrees by distance learning thanks to lessons learned from the collapsed UkeU, the ill-fated government-sponsored project conceived at the height of the dotcom boom to exploit an expanding overseas market for e-learning. Online delivery and distance learning were touted as the means of widening participation in higher education for employed adults, part-timers, people with special needs, and armies of students in emerging economies such as Russia, south-east Asia and China.
The Guardian

University's £28m grant from Gates
The University of Liverpool is to receive a £28 million grant from Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates for malaria research. Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, part of the university, will develop new chemicals to protect people from malaria carrying mosquitoes. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation said the money was part of a package of grants totalling £145 million for research into a disease that killed 2,000 African children every day.
The Financial Times

Former refugee helps St Andrews students
St Andrews University today welcomed 41 new students on scholarships provided by an Iraqi exile. The scholarships are funded by former refugee Naim Dangoor, who launched the £1 million scheme last December. Around 1,000 UK students with strong academic promise, from a background of financial or social disadvantage, have since been selected to study at a number of universities throughout the UK.
The Guardian

Student launched from medieval catapult died after missing safety net
A university student died after being hurled 100ft through the air by a medieval-style "trebuchet" catapult, an inquest heard yesterday. Kostydin Yankov, 19, an Oxford University student, suffered multiple injuries and serious spinal damage when he fell short of the safety net.
The Scotsman, The Guardian

Why male mice feel urge to break out into song
Research by a team of neuroscientists has revealed that male mice construct complex songs and sing them for minutes at a time when they come across sex pheromones produced by potential mates. The songs are not audible to the human ear because they are too high frequency and although scientists knew mice emitted ultrasonic chirps, recordings of the noises had never been fully analysed.
The Guardian, Nature, The Daily Telegraph, The Times, New Scientist

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