Today's news

February 3, 2006

Bigger budget shows pay rise possible, lecturers say
Lecturers said yesterday that the announcement of £6.5 billion government funding for universities next year meant there was enough money to meet their 8 per cent pay claim. Two academic unions, Natfhe and the Association of University Teachers, are balloting their members on strike action after claiming that university heads pledged to devote one-third of new income from top-up fees to staff pay. The universities say a substantial amount of fees money is going towards staff pay and improving conditions and they accuse the unions of jumping the gun over a pay settlement that is not due until August.
The Guardian

Students to make stand against Boris
Edinburgh University's official student body has come out against Tory MP Boris Johnson in his bid to become rector. The Edinburgh University Students' Association voted to campaign against Mr Johnson in the rectorial election because of his support for top-up fees. It is the first time the association has taken any position in a rectorial election since the first vote in 1851.
The Scotsman

Peru tells Yale it wants its Machu Picchu treasures back (after 100 years)
Yale University is embroiled in an escalating dispute with Peru over the return of treasures from the world-famous Incan site of Machu Picchu that are on display as part of the ivy-league university's permanent collection. Over the years, there have been fitful attempts to find a solution to the contested ownership. It threatens to come to a head later this year, with the departure from office of Alejandro Toledo, Peru's first indigenous president, who has pledged to recover the treasures before he steps down in July. The dispute recalls other cases where countries are fighting to retrieve artefacts from museums in other countries - most notably Italy's demand that the Getty Museum in Los Angeles and New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art hand back various classical treasures that Rome says are part of Italy's cultural heritage.
The Independent

Students hit the e-books
The way students research and write essays could be transformed with the launch of a new kind of online resource. Textbook Solutions allows students to download books and annotate them electronically, take notes onscreen and perform complicated text searches. "We wanted to build software that would combine the different physical tools [students] use in their learning into an easy-to-use electronic workspace," said Phil Webb, of Textbook Solutions, which developed the technology.
The Guardian

War and peace - the module - declared
The Open University declares war next week - all in the interests of peace, you understand. A new course called War, Intervention and Development is aimed at people working in conflict and postwar settings and is already attracting military personnel, charity and development workers and executives in firms operating in danger zones. Given the more than 200 wars of the past half-century, there is no lack of study material, but Helen Yanacopulos, who chairs the course, warns that each conflict is different and "there is no best practice".
The Guardian

No problem starting school at age six, says academic
Ministers should consider changing the age at which children start primary school, a leading academic has said in a report commissioned by the Scottish Executive. Christine Stephen said there was "no compelling reason" why pupils should start school at five years old and pointed to international evidence that showed starting primary a year later had no effect on children's development. Dr Stephen, based at Stirling University's Institute of Education, also said the current drive to allow secondary school pupils to sit their exams earlier showed there was room for greater flexibility within the system.
The Scotsman

Parents' diets linked to child brain disorders
Brain chemistry and nutrition researchers claim the steep rise in children suffering from conditions such as dyslexia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is linked to a lack of proper nutrition from conception onwards. Michael Crawford, professor of brain chemistry and human nutrition at London Metropolitan University, said he forecast a rapid growth in brain disorders 35 years ago. He said it was clear the rise in cardiovascular disease would be followed by brain problems because of poor diet and the food industry's failure to focus on nutrition.
The Scotsman

Poison pill solution for killer zebra mussels
Scientists say they have discovered how to control zebra mussels - freshwater pests that kill other mussels, clog water pipes and foul boat propellers - by feeding them with poison pills. A team from Cambridge University claim they can kill the clams through packing potassium chloride into particles made of fats. The particles, harmless to other creatures, are transferred by mussels along their gills before dissolving in their stomachs. David Aldridge, of the university's zoology department, said: "Zebra mussels are encrusting just about every solid surface in some rivers."
The Guardian

Oxford does support John Hood.
The Times

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