Today's news

January 9, 2006

Applications to university will fall as fees rise, minister admits
University applications are likely to fall for the first time in eight years after the introduction of increased tuition fees, the Government admitted last night. Speaking ahead of next week's deadline for applications, the Higher Education minister, Bill Rammell, estimated that the number of pupils applying to start university in the autumn would be down by about two per cent. Ministers have repeatedly argued that the £3,000 fee would not put students off and yesterday Mr Rammell insisted a two per cent fall represented a "strong performance" given the surge in applications last year. "This was to be expected, given the very large increase last year of something like nine per cent," he said. "I am not anticipating a change from that. I most certainly do not believe that we are going to see a major downturn in applications."
The Guardian, The Scotsman

University plans £40m estate to house staff
Oxford University has unveiled plans to build an upmarket housing estate on the city's outskirts because academic staff are being priced out of local housing by wealthy Londoners migrating to the dreaming spires. Property prices in the city are rising so fast that they may even discourage potential recruits from joining, the university fears. House prices, especially in the northern suburbs favoured by dons, have spiralled beyond even national rates as thousands of people from the capital have sold up and bought cheaper homes in academe. A three-bedroom house in north Oxford might well cost £400,000, while homes at £1 million are far from rare.
The Daily Telegraph

Mayhew Jonas and a King's ransom farewell notes
Dame Judith Mayhew Jonas, formerly the City of London's top administrator, is in the final phase of a tempestuous spell as provost of King's College, Cambridge. The college is facing a bill of almost £1 million relating to the departures of Mayhew Jonas and Roger Salmon, the former first bursar who had previously been a director of NM Rothschild and franchising director for British Rail. Last July, it announced that Mayhew Jonas would be taking a year's sabbatical, after which she would formally step down as provost, or head of the college. She had taken up the post in October 2003 for a term of ten years. Mudlark has learned that King's agreed to pay her more than £700,000 after she decided to step down.
The Financial Times

Student extremism brings violence and chaos to Iraqi universities
The spectacle of students dressed in black, many beating themselves with their fists, following an imitation coffin through the campus was not one of its secular professors had sought on their syllabuses. They knew that the procession in remembrance of the death of a revered Shia cleric would only further inflame sectarian and political squabbles. But no one in authority did anything to stop it, despite the private protestations of senior faculty members. They knew that to do so would risk a riot. Despite once priding themselves on secular and Westernised attitudes - while having to be slavishly obedient to Saddam Hussein - Iraq's universities are increasingly marked by fundamentalism and political struggle.
The Daily Telegraph

Student cash counselling programme to be extended
An online resource that teaches 16 to 19-year-olds how to manage their money during their time at university is to be extended with a £97,500 grant from the Higher Education Funding Council for England. The money will be used to create teaching materials based on the online resource All About U, developed by the independent students' charity Uniaid. The program is designed to help students to overcome the confusion surrounding student finance and the sometimes tricky transition from school and college to university. The new project is a collaboration between the charity and the Government-funded Aimhigher programme, which seeks to increase the number of young people from under-represented groups entering higher education.
The Guardian

Dogs as good as screening for cancer detection
Dogs do as well as state-of-the-art screening tests at sniffing out people with lung or breast cancer. The research raises the possibility that trained dogs could detect cancers even earlier and might some day supplement or even replace mammograms and CT scans in the laboratory. Two previous studies have shown that dogs seem to be able to sniff out melanomas and bladder cancer. The idea is not outrageous. Cancer patients have been shown to have traces of chemicals – like alkanes and benzene derivatives – in their breath, and other studies have shown dogs can detect chemicals in concentrations as small as a few parts per trillion.
New Scientist

From the weekend's papers:


  • Edinburgh University is to be the first Scottish institution to take part in the National Student Survey. The Guardian
  • The University of Central England has omitted Christian holidays from its calendar. The Daily Express, The Daily Mirror


  • Andrew Boggis, chair of the Headmasters’ and Headmistress’ Conference, belives A levels are the fairest test for university admissions. The Sunday Times
  • University lecturers are preparing to go on strike after accusing vice-chancellors of breaking a promise to increase pay. The Independent On Sunday
  • A £50 million digital-technology reasearch and training facility is to be set up at Warwick University by Lord Bhattacharyya. The Sunday Times
  • Manchester Metropolitan University is trying to offer a way out of the IT experts shortage. The Sunday Times

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