Today's news

November 8, 2005

Universities fear research and lectures may be illegal
Academics and university librarians could fall foul of the Government's new terror legislation unless they curb debate in tutorials and restrict the range of research materials available to students, vice-chancellors warned last night. Universities UK and the Association of University Teachers said the day-to-day work of thousands of academic staff may be criminalised if the new laws, being debated in the Commons this week, are passed. "We have grave concerns that certain elements of the terrorism bill might cut across academic freedoms," Drummond Bone, UUK president, said yesterday.
The Guardian

University grant saved me from life as shop worker, says Cherie Blair
Cherie Blair caused fresh controversy for her husband yesterday by disclosing that she would have ended up working in a shop if the state had not paid for her university education. Her comments, in the barristers' magazine Counsel, were immediately seized upon by opposition politicians as a new example to cite in criticising Tony Blair's policy on introducing charges for higher education. Mrs Blair told the magazine: "The truth is, if I hadn't had the funding from the state to go to university I would have worked in a shop."
The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, The Scotsman

Lecturer cleared in racism case
A senior university lecturer accused by colleagues of racial prejudice against Chinese students has been awarded £55,840 by an employment tribunal. Brenda Ashton, 53, who is half Chinese, resigned as director of the Centre for English Language at Liverpool Hope University College in August 2003. The tribunal in Liverpool ruled that Mrs Ashton was unfairly dismissed as the college had not investigated appropriately. She was later cleared by the college.
The Times

UK colleges rival US institutions, says funding chief
Britain's small higher education colleges give a great student experience and rival the prestigious American liberal arts colleges, the head of the Government's funding body for the sector said yesterday. Praising the minnows often looked down on by the universities, Sir Howard Newby, chief executive of the funding council Higher education Funding Council for England, revealed that existing universities had fought tooth and nail to prevent a group of colleges gaining university status this year. However, the Government had gone ahead and relaxed the rules, which allowed nine new universities to be created.
The Guardian

Top Scots universities join forces for £24m research opportunity
Two of Edinburgh's top universities have teamed up for a £24 million initiative to share research facilities and develop a joint postgraduate school of engineering and mathematics. Edinburgh University and Heriot-Watt University have launched the Edinburgh Research Partnership to enable postgraduate students to collaborate on a range of scientific projects. Up to 20 new jobs - including ten professor positions - will be created by the link-up, which is being funded by the universities and the Scottish Executive.
The Scotsman

Hospital superbugs 'may be history by 2015'
Hospital superbugs could be all but wiped out in ten years by viruses that are harmless to humans, say Scottish scientists. Dr Mike Mattey and a team of researchers at Strathclyde University have come up with a new method of tackling bugs such as the killer MRSA that does not involve using antibiotics. They have patented a technique to allow bacteriophages - viruses which are the natural enemy of bacteria - to be used in normal cleaning products. The viruses can lie dormant for weeks, only waking up to devour the MRSA when it arrives.
The Scotsman

Hormones help women steer clear of accidents
Sex hormones could be helping women suffer fewer car accidents than men. Female drivers benefit from lower car insurance premiums because statistics show they are less likely to be involved in an accident. Scientists have claimed the reason is a difference between the way the brains of the two sexes work. Researchers at the University of Bradford found that women are significantly better than men at shifting concentration. This is not the same as the well-known female ability of multi-tasking, which involves dealing with more than one job at the same time.
The Scotsman

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