Today's news

January 12, 2006

University pay row threatens fee policy
Universities are facing a year of pay strikes that could plunge the Government's flagship top-up fees policy into chaos. Academics are demanding at least one third of the estimated £2 billion that universities are expected to rake in from charging students £3,000 a year. And talks in London - aimed at heading off a bitter pay dispute that could cripple campuses across the country - are expected to fail. Academic unions are gearing up for strike ballots next month and industrial action could begin in March, just weeks before students are due to take their final exams. If that happens, many final year students will not graduate this summer as lecturers refuse to mark their exams and coursework.
The Evening Standard, The Times Higher Education Supplement (Jan 13)

Stem cell scientist blames others
Disgraced scientist Hwang Woo-suk asked forgiveness from fellow South Koreans for his fraudulent publications on human stem cell research, but blamed the scandal on junior researchers who he said deceived him. "I ask for your forgiveness," Hwang told a nationally-televised news conference in Seoul. "I feel so miserable that it's difficult even to say sorry." Hwang, in his first public appearance in nearly three weeks, continued to insist that he had the technology to use cloning to create human embryonic stem cells genetically matched to patients - saying he could do so in under six months if he had access to enough human eggs.
The Scotsman, The Financial Times , see also The Times Higher Education Supplement (Jan 13)

France to review stem cell guidelines
Scientists in France are today expected to receive clearer guidance on stem cell research. The general director of the Agence de Biomédicin, Carine Camby, is due to flesh out details contained in France's 2004 Bioethics Act at a meeting of stem cell scientists in Paris. Under the act, scientists were, for the first time, given permission to conduct research on embryos for a trial period of five years as long as they adhered to strict guidelines. Research can only be carried out on surplus embryos from IVF treatment and scientists have to show that their work could lead to important advances that could not be achieved by other means. Researchers also need to get permission from couples to use their embryos.
The Guardian

Students warned graduate jobs market could be about to peak
The big rise in the number of university students means many graduates seeking top jobs this year are likely to be disappointed despite a 10.8 per cent increase in vacancies, a study says today. A survey of the 100 biggest graduate employers, published today by High Fliers Research, reveals a large increase in vacancies, for the third year running. This year's rise has been fuelled by a further increase in demand for quality staff from the big four accountancy firms and from City investment banks. But Martin Birchall, managing director of High Fliers, which has been conducting research into graduate recruitment since 1995, warns that the jobs market for university students could be about to peak.
The Financial Times

Lecturer engineers new role
An Edinburgh lecturer has been granted a prestigious industrial secondment by the Royal Academy of Engineering. Napier University senior lecturer Dr Hazel Hall, of the School of Computing, is set to work as an adviser to specialist consulting firm TFPL in London. The company helps public and private sector organisations develop and implement knowledge and information strategies, and recruit and train information and knowledge leaders and their teams. Dr Hall, who will work with the firm from February to July this year, said: "I am very much looking forward to this unique opportunity for me to gain valuable industrial experience working as part of the company team.
The Scotsman

Professor turns to erotica at 70
A 70-year-old Italian law professor has discovered a new career writing erotic memoirs after losing his university job following accusations that he offered students high marks for sex. Ezio Capizzano, a former law teacher at Camerino University in central Italy, gives detailed accounts of his amorous "tutorials" in the book, The Last Baron In A Campus of Tulips , published this week. When it emerged in 2002 that he had video-taped his "one-to-one" tutorials he became a household name in Italy and a role model for ageing Casanovas. Far from condemning him, the media lauded Professor Capizzano. The respected Corriere della Sera newspaper described him as "Italy's answer to Sean Connery". In 2004 he was acquitted of any wrongdoing after the court accepted his claim that the students had all given their full consent.
The Daily Telegraph

Ants are in a class of their own with tandem teaching
Ants have been shown to give less alert comrades lessons about locating food in what scientists claim is the first example of "teaching" to be found in the animal world. A team at the University of Bristol has discovered that ants teach others where food is located by running in tandem. The insects may also have something to teach politicians about how to make education more effective. Although the ants thrive on one-to-one tuition, dullards and dunces will be encouraged by the discovery that it is the value of what is being taught and the teaching style, rather than brain size, that has most influenced the evolution of teaching. Professor Nigel Franks and Tom Richardson, from Bristol, who report the work today in Nature, claim that it is the first time a demonstration of formal teaching has been recognised in an animal.
The Daily Telegraph, New Scientist

Regarding Oxbridge rivalry causing no waves in the boardroom.
The Financial Times

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