Today's news

November 24, 2005

Scientist who cloned Dolly 'bullied Asian colleague'
The scientist who cloned Dolly the sheep was accused yesterday of bullying an Asian colleague in a £1 million race discrimination case. Ian Wilmut, 63, is alleged to have forced Prim Singh, 45, to leave his job as a molecular biologist at the Roslin Institute near Edinburgh. Dr Singh claims he was passed over for promotion and given second-rate laboratory equipment because of his race. He also accuses Professor Wilmut of stealing his ideas. He has begun a battle for compensation against the institute on the grounds of racial discrimination.
The Daily Telegraph

Degree classification: have the Desmond and Vorderman had their day?
The days of the dreaded "Desmond" are numbered and the time is coming when students will no longer be reduced to tears for fear of the "Vorderman". Last Friday marked the end of the consultation period for plans to scrap degree classifications and replace them with a simpler distinction, pass and fail system that would see those bogeymen of the ambitious undergraduate, the 2:2 (known as the Desmond Tutu) and the third (famously awarded to braniac Carol Vorderman) laid to rest for ever. Under the reforms, proposed by a steering group set up by Universities UK and the Standing Conference of Principals and chaired by Robert Burgess, vice-chancellor of Leicester University, simpler classifications are to be balanced with a transcript detailing students' achievements over the course of their degree.
The Independent

Blunkett goes to uni for a year
Shamed David Blunkett plans to become a university lecturer for a year. Mr Blunkett - thought to face huge legal bills after his paternity battle with ex-lover Kimberly Quinn - aims to cash in teaching politics. He also plans to fix up £25,000-a-time speaking engagements through an agency. Mr Blunkett, 58, lectured in industrial relations at Barnsley College for 13 years until 1987. He quit that year when he was elected Sheffield Brightside MP. A source yesterday said that Mr Blunkett aims to lecture at various universities and colleges in 2006.
The Daily Mirror

Students with jobs lose out in exams
The most cash-strapped university students are jeopardising their chances of exam success by combining their studies with long hours in low paid jobs, according to research. Half of those surveyed said they combined paid work with their studies during term-time, and half focused solely on their academic work. Students who worked admitted they spent less time on academic work because of the demands of regular term-time jobs - typically in bars, pubs, cafes and shops - and often skipped lectures and handed work in late. For those working 15 hours a week the odds of obtaining a first-class degree or a 2.1 were cut by more than a third.
The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, The Independent, The Times Higher Education Supplement (Nov 25)

Universities seek more cash aid to help students study abroad
University leaders have called on ministers to do more to help Scottish students who want to study for part of their degrees abroad. Universities Scotland, the higher education umbrella body, is to lobby the Executive in an attempt to get more financial support for undergraduates wishing to conduct some of their studies overseas. They say too few Scots study abroad and so graduate with little understanding of the world and are ill-prepared for the global jobs market.
The Scotsman

Battle of cottage door ends in fine for Oxford don
With its rose-covered front door and Cotswold stone walls, an Oxford academic’s 18th-century cottage was considered pretty enough to feature in the TV series Inspector Morse . Programme-makers saw nothing amiss despite the fact that Alison Brading, who spends most of her time in a wheelchair because of polio, had replaced her heavy wooden front door with an authentic-looking uPVC one, which was easier for her to open. Yesterday, however, she was fined £330 by magistrates and ordered to pay £1,797 costs for breaching conservation laws by not having planning permission to alter the appearance of her Grade II-listed home.
The Times

The office psychologist
Numerous studies over the years have shown how job stress, particularly the sort of continual annoyance that results from working under unjust or incompetent bosses, results in ill-health. A report by Buckinghamshire Chilterns University College found that health workers who said that their supervisors were unfair had levels of hypertension associated with a 16 per cent increased risk of heart disease and a 38 per cent increased risk of stroke. And a survey of 6,442 civil servants in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that those who felt that they worked under fair superiors had a third less heart disease than those who thought their managers unfair or neutral.
The Times

How rock helps the days roll by
Huge chunks of the Earth's crust crashed into the edge of the core 2.2 billion years ago, where they may have changed the speed at which the fledgling planet rotated and so altered the length of its day, scientists announce today. The movement of dense material towards the centre of the Earth could have speeded up its rotation in the same way that an ice skater spins faster by drawing in the arms towards the body. Crust made on the ocean floor slides into the Earth's mantle. But David Dobson and co-researchers at University College London have come up with a theory to explain some unusual patterns in seismic waves travelling through the Earth. Dr Dobson will present the findings at the William Smith meeting of the Geological Society of London today.
The Guardian

Letters
Discussing the Oxford admissions process.
The Independent

Letter
Oxford could help to mentor less advantaged students.
The Independent

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