Today's news

November 28, 2005

Dons divided on plans to hand over patent rights to Cambridge University
Dons at Cambridge are to vote this week on the university's controversial plan to take control of money-making inventions amid warnings that it would stifle productivity and endanger academic freedom. Lecturers have begun a campaign to wreck the proposal by Alison Richards, the vice-chancellor, which will give the university ownership of all patents resulting from their work. Critics claim the new system will undermine Cambridge's position as the UK's most successful university at translating its research and inventions into commercial use. They warn it will give companies buying the patents an unacceptable amount of influence over academics. They have forced a vote of all members of the university, which can overrule the management's decision.
The Daily Telegraph, The Times Higher Education Supplement (Nov 25)

Climate change 'as bad as WMD'
The effects of climate change will be as bad as any weapons of mass destruction, Lord May, the president of the Royal Society, will say this week. He will also blame President George W Bush for his failure to fulfil the commitment his father signed at the Rio Earth Summit to freeze America's emissions of greenhouse gases by 2000. Lord May's will make his last major speech to the Royal Society as its president as the first meeting of the parties to the Kyoto treaty on climate change opens in Montreal today.
The Daily Telegraph

Academic reveals election ambitions
A leading academic is in line to stand as an SNP candidate for the Holyrood elections in 2007. Professor Chris Harvie said that frustration with the Labour Party at the Scottish Parliament had prompted him to announce his intention. He was a founder of distance learning in the Open University and has been Professor of British Studies in the English department of Tübingen University, Germany, since 1980. Professor Harvie, 61, said: "I decided to act after meeting a growing number of people who realise that the malfunctioning of Holyrood is due more to the decay of Labour than to any Scots incapacity for self-government.
The Scotsman

£1.85m boost for stem cell work
Stem cell development in Scotland is to get a major £1.85 million boost in public funding. Scottish Enterprise will provide the cash over the next ten years to promote commercial opportunities for the technology. It will not be used to finance actual research itself. It is believed stem cell technology could soon revolutionise the clinical treatment of diseases such as leukaemia, Parkinson's disease and diabetes.
The Scotsman

Physio graduates press for work
Almost two-thirds of physiotherapy graduates in the Scottish capital are struggling to find work, a report has revealed. More than half of the graduates from the only physiotherapy course in Edinburgh - at Queen Margaret University College - have had to take on temporary work in bars, gyms and banks after failing to find a junior position in physiotherapy. Some are now even having to look abroad to find jobs they trained for. A study by the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy has shown 64 per cent of this year's graduates in the subject north of the Border have not yet secured their first job within the NHS.
The Scotsman

Spacecraft snatches first samples from asteroid
The Hayabusa spaceprobe has snatched samples from the asteroid Itokawa, according to JAXA, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. The probe touched down at 0707 Japanese time (2207 GMT Friday) and its computer system shot a metal ball into the asteroid to drive up material for collection. The operation went "without failure", said JAXA official Yasunori Matoba, and the craft then took off again. The Hayabusa team will not know for sure whether it picked up surface material until the craft returns to Earth in 2007, after a 2-billion-kilometre journey, but they are confident it worked.
New Scientist

Self-taught linguist to have study sponsored
The life-saving odyssey of Basira Jan has also changed the world of the 22-year-old interpreter who accompanied her from Jalalabad to Indianapolis. By the time that Ajmal Maykhel returns to Afghanistan, he hopes to have a university degree from the University of Southern Indiana. Mr Maykhel, known as AJ, is a talented linguist who speaks seven languages and has translated for US forces since the invasion in 2001. While translating for Basira and her father during their stay in the US, he won a place to study for a French and German degree and the Indiana National Guard has pledged to raise the $23,000(£13,500)-a-year cost.
The Times

Students demand change with drive for travel pass discount
BUS passengers are set to face disruption as thousands of students stage a protest over discounted travel passes. Students are being urged to pay their bus fares in 1p and 2p coins as part of a campaign to extend discounted travel passes to students over 25. The protest, which 4000 students have agreed to take part in, is likely to cause long queues and frustration for other bus passengers, who will have to wait while student passengers pay their fares penny by penny.
The Scotsman

From the weekend's papers:


  • Cranfield University has won a £366 million, 22-year deal to provide education and training to the Ministry of Defence. The Guardian
  • Students who fail to pay their student loans will be blacklisted. The Times


  • Researchers at Glasgow Caledonian University given £40,000 of public money to prove that drinking heavily gives you a hangover. The Sunday Times
  • Students who do voluntary work in their 'gap year' could have their university tuition fees paid in return. The Guardian

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