Today's news

January 19, 2006

Unions angered by widening university pay gap
Pay talks between university lecturers and employers took a further dive today, when it emerged that vice-chancellors and principals enjoyed pay rises of up to 35 per cent over the last three years, while lecturers received just 9 per cent. According to the Association of University Teachers, university heads sitting on the board of the Universities and Colleges Employers' Association have received, on average, pay increases of 32.1 per cent since 2001, bringing their salaries last year to £178,000. The highest increase was 35.6 per cent. During the same period, lecturers received average increases of 9.44 per cent, said the union. The Association of University Teachers said it was staggered by the figures, when average starting salaries for lecturers stood at less than £25,000.
The Guardian

Universities applaud rejection of terror bill clause
Universities today welcomed a resounding defeat in the House of Lords for the Government over a clause in the terrorism bill that they feared would penalise lecturers and librarians. It was the second reverse inflicted by opposition and crossbench peers on a bill that has caused continual problems for the government in its attempts to crack down on terrorist activity in the wake of the bombings in London on July 7 last year. MPs voted down plans to hold terror suspects for up to 90 days - Tony Blair's first Commons defeat. Academic unions and universities feared that a clause making it an offence to directly or indirectly encourage terrorist acts, or to be reckless as to whether an activity had that effect, would include a lecturer posting information on a website or distributing notes on a terrorist movement or chemical process.
The Guardian

Record numbers go to college
Universities and colleges admitted a record 405,369 students last year, the University and College Admissions Service says today. Almost 30,000 more applicants were accepted than in 2004 as they sought to beat the introduction of £3,000 annual tuition fees, starting in the next academic year. But while the total number rose, a significant drop in those accepted from the Far East indicated that recent increases in visa fees had put off many from applying to British universities. According to Ucas, the total number of accepted applicants under 21 rose by 22,662, or 7.7 per cent, while the number of mature students increased by 6.2 per cent.
The Times

Fewer Scots got university places
The number of Scots who won university places last autumn showed a marked fall, figures confirmed. And the figures, from the university admissions service Ucas, also showed an increase in the number of youngsters from England winning places at Scottish universities and colleges. Early figures published by Ucas in October showed a similar pattern and were seized on at the time by the SNP, which claimed moves by the Executive to raise some fee levels to discourage "fee refugees" were unnecessary. But the Executive has said it is too early to say if the increase in applicants from England was prompted by top-up fees to be charged by universities south of the border.
The Scotsman

500,000 medical records wanted for research project
Half a million Britons will be asked to give researchers access to their private medical records as part of a new research project. Scientists hope the Biobank database, to be launched within weeks, will aid research into common illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer. It will be the world's biggest resource for medical researchers, with detailed information about participants' medical histories and lifestyles. The project will include GPs' records as well as detailed recordings of subjects' body fat levels, blood pressure and weight.
The Guardian

Men 'get pleasure from seeing revenge'
Men get greater satisfaction than women from seeing someone they dislike suffer pain shows a study of how people react when witnessing revenge. Scientists found highly significant differences between the genders in how male and the female brains respond. Men and women feel empathy with people they know experiencing pain but in men the empathy turns to pleasure when the victim is someone they dislike. Researchers from University College London said the findings are the first scientifically based evidence to suggest there is male schadenfreude , a feeling of pleasure at seeing revenge exacted.
The Independent, The Daily Telegraph, The Times, New Scientist, The Guardian

Letter
Is the role of the vice-chancellor entering the modern age?
The Independent

Letter
A change in wearing academic dress at Oxford is exaggerated.
The Times

Letter
It is unfair to say that Oxford snubs potential medical students from state schools.
The Daily Mail

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