Today's news

February 7, 2006

Qinetiq float in fresh trouble as scientists sue for $400m
The controversial flotation of the defence technology group Qinetiq ran into fresh trouble yesterday after Cambridge University scientists launched a $400 million (£230 million) lawsuit against the company. British Titanium, a tiny spin-off set up by a group of former Cambridge metallurgists and entrepreneurs, claims Qinetiq reneged on a deal to sub-license a revolutionary new technique for producing titanium, the ultra-expensive metal used in applications from spacecraft and stealth bombers to tanks and car engines. James Hamilton, the chairman and chief executive of British Titanium, alleges he went to Qinetiq's forerunner, the Defence Evaluation Research Agency, for help in commercialising the technology but the company then decided to end a licensing agreement with British Titanium.
The Independent, The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph

Soas appoints new director
The next director of the School of Oriental and African Studies is to be Professor Paul Webley, it was announced today. Professor Webley, an economic psychologist, is deputy vice-chancellor of Exeter University, and an expert on tax evasion, social security fraud, children's economic behaviour and parking violations. He will succeed Professor Colin Bundy in the summer. Soas, one of the country's smallest universities with only about 3,000 students, is part of the University of London and internationally known for its research and teaching on the history, languages and cultures of Africa and Asia.
The Guardian

Graduate vacancies increase but salary rises set to be restrained
Companies are looking for a big increase in the number of graduates entering their businesses compared with last year but will not be offering university leavers overly generous starting salaries, a survey of employers has found. Despite expectations of a 15 per cent increase in the number of new starters to be taken on in 2006, the average starting salary will rise by just 2.3 per cent to £23,000 - the smallest increase for five years. The average salary rise comes in spite of the fact that employers are predicting an increase in graduate vacancies for the third consecutive year.
The Financial Times, The Guardian, The Independent, The Times

English student fees threaten vet numbers
Increased university tuition fees south of the Border could put a block on the number of potential veterinary surgeons willing to enter the profession, the British Veterinary Association has warned. Debts incurred for first degree vet students at English universities has increased by between 100 per cent and 300 per cent, to an average of £30,000 on graduation, in the past six years. That compares with a 2 per cent to 36 per cent rise in Scotland. Second-degree and overseas veterinary students face the prospect of even greater debts, with an average fifth-year figure of over £68,000 now against just under £25,000 in 1999.
The Scotsman

Quiz students vie for £8000 national prize
Students at Edinburgh University are to get the chance to take part in a nationwide pub quiz event with an £8,000 prize. Edinburgh is among only three universities in Scotland to take part in the weekly league competition, which happens at 20 venues across the UK. The quiz will take place every Sunday this month at Teviot Middle Bar at the student's union, where quiz teams compete with all the teams at the other venues for an overall prize of £8,000.
The Scotsman

Computer software to save lives if bird flu strikes
Life-saving technology aimed at halting the spread of bird flu has been developed at Edinburgh University. The computer software will also help officials react to the outbreak of diseases following natural disasters, such as the Asian tsunami, Hurricane Katrina, and the Pakistan earthquake. World Health Organisation response teams will take the new technology with them on laptops when they fly to disaster zones. Investigators will be able to access huge amounts of information which can help pinpoint the source of an outbreak of bird flu. For example, it can show them where it is likely to spread, the number of people at risk, and give detailed information on how to stop it.
The Scotsman

Letter
From an Oxford professor regarding student contracts.
The Times

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