Today's news

February 6, 2006

Warning that visa shake-up will cost colleges
Universities will lose the income from hundreds of thousands of overseas students under plans to limit the right of appeal for international students who are refused visas, vice-chancellors and business leaders warn today. In a joint letter to the Financial Times , Sir Digby Jones, the director-general of the CBI employers organisation, and Professor Drummond Bone, president of Universities UK, the umbrella group for higher education, urge the Government to rethink its plans in the immigration, asylum and nationality bill. They argue that many overseas students are wrongly denied visas to study, with almost 25 per cent of failed applicants winning a place under the existing appeals system, which is to be scrapped under the proposed legislation.
The Financial Times

'Jobs cull' if lecturers get 20% rise
University staff in Scotland face losing their jobs in order to fund a massive rise in lecturers' pay, a leading principal has warned. Academics across the UK are seeking a 20 per cent increase and are holding a ballot on the possibility of strike action. Andrew Hamnett, the principal of Strathclyde University, said that would cost his establishment £20 million and could lead to "a drastic cull" of staff. He said that while the introduction of top-up fees south of the Border meant English universities could afford a generous pay deal for their lecturers, their Scottish counterparts could not.
The Scotsman

Scientists are split on the different ways men and women think
An academic row has erupted after one of the world's leading scientific journals refused to publish an article which claims that men and women think differently. Peter Lawrence, a biologist and fellow of the Royal Society, accused Science of being "gutless" after it explained that its decision was because the piece did not offer "a strategy on how to deal with the gender issue". In his paper, Mr Lawrence questioned why, when 60 per cent of biology students are female, only 10 per cent go on to become professors. This "leaky pipeline" has been blamed on discrimination and a lack of choice which, if corrected, will produce equal numbers of men and women in science.
The Daily Telegraph

Triumph of mind over dark matter
It makes up nearly a quarter of the Universe, holds our galaxy in place, but cannot be seen. Dark matter has evaded all attempts to detect and illuminate it in the 73 years since its existence was first hypothesized. Now British astronomers have moved an important step closer to lifting the veil on the elusive material that has mystified generations of scientists, by calculating some of its basic physical properties for the first time. Professor Gerry Gilmore, of the Institute of Astronomy at the University of Cambridge, and colleagues used the world's most advanced optical telescope system to observe 12 dwarf galaxies around the edge of our own galaxy, the Milky Way.
The Daily Telegraph, The Independent, The Guardian

Disaster area technology revealed
Pioneering technology which could save lives in disaster-hit regions has been revealed by scientists in the UK. Experts at Edinburgh University have come up with software to help health chiefs monitor and respond to disease outbreaks which often follow natural disasters. The technology was developed in co-operation with the World Health Organisation, and could be used in the worldwide battle against bird flu. It will allow workers to quickly analyse large amounts of data on laptop computers, enabling them to take quicker action in the wake of large disasters where disease can pass quickly among thousands of people.
The Scotsman

Museum to return Homer vase
The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York is to return a 2,500-year-old vase by Euphronios, the great Greek painter, to Italy. The decision to return the 6th-century BC terracotta vase, one of 20 artefacts to be repatriated to Italy, could set a global precedent for the return of stolen antiquities. The vase, or krater , went missing from the Etruscan tombs at Cerveteri, north of Rome, in 1971.
The Times

Feminist author Betty Friedan dies on 85th birthday
Betty Friedan, whose pioneering book, The Feminine Mystique , ignited the modern women's rights movement in the US in 1963 and opened the door to advances in sexual equality that today are largely taken for granted, died on her 85th birthday on Saturday at her home in Washington.
The Independent

Letters
Reaction to Oxford's support for John Hood and their idea to issue students with study contracts.
The Times

From the weekend's papers:

Saturday

  • Birmingham University has agreed to train engineering students from a notorious Iranian nuclear research centre. The Times
  • Researchers at Oxford University have warned the Government that asylum seekers kept in detention for long periods are at risk of "suicidal urges". The Evening Standard

Sunday

  • Universities told: balance the racial mix. The Sunday Times
  • Scottish students should pay money directly to their university instead of a graduate tax to government when they start work, a new study claims. The Scotsman, The Times Higher Education Supplement (Feb 03)
  • Students are not giving blood in protest over gay ban. The Mail On Sunday
  • The Animal Liberation Front will not beat Oxford University. The Sunday Times

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