Today's news

February 9, 2006

Students 'ill-prepared for university'
New university students struggle with the demands put on them because the school examination treadmill leads to expectations of "spoon feeding" rather than independent study, according to an authoritative survey of admissions tutors to be published this week. The report will warn that valuable time is lost at the start of university courses, providing remedial classes in basic literacy and numeracy skills and developing the ability to learn independently, which should have been picked up at school. "Learners who may have achieved academic success by such means at A level... are increasingly coming into higher education expecting to be told the answers," said the report, co-produced by researchers at Oxford and Ucas, the body through which all candidates must pass to go on to university.
The Times Higher Education Supplement (Feb 10), The Financial Times, The Daily Telegraph, The Scotsman, The Times

Tuition fee increase to £5,000 by 2010 predicted
University tuition fees due to be introduced in September could rise to £5,000 a year by 2010, according to the outgoing head of the university funding council. Sir Howard Newby, who stood down last month, said the new funding package of tuition fees, grants and bursaries amounted to a public subsidy for the middle classes and was "not sustainable". He said the measures would fail many students from disadvantaged backgrounds and limit growth in the academic sector. "The big issue we now face is that the student support arrangements are highly socially regressive, because middle-class kids can pick up a subsidy on the zero interest rates applied to student loans," he said. "The costs of these arrangements are applying a major constraint on the expansion of universities. That's a funny way to manage a higher education system."
The Times Higher Education Supplement (Feb 10), The Guardian, The Times

University chastised over race relations failures
The Commission for Racial Equality has written to London Metropolitan University claiming the institution has failed to comply with race relations laws, it emerged today. The CRE told the university that it had breached a section of the Race Relations Act, which requires it to publish the outcomes of race impact assessments. The letter followed a complaint made by the lecturers' union Natfhe, which claims that London Met has not kept any written records of the outcomes of its assessments, including those relating to its performance appraisal development and award scheme. The union claims the performance-related pay scheme "produced discriminatory outcomes with disproportionately few black and ethnic minority staff receiving the top pay increment".
The Times Higher Education Supplement (Feb 10), The Guardian

£16m for Welsh university joint research ventures
The Welsh education minister today announced £16 million of research funding for universities as a reward for collaboration. After repeated government frustration with the reluctance of universities in Wales to merge, the assembly has opted for the carrot instead of the stick and steered funding to collaborative programmes. Jane Davidson, the education minister, said the announcement was in line with the principles of the executive's Reaching Higher policy, which tried to tackle the problem of a small country with large number of small higher education institutions. The University of Wales, Aberystwyth and the University of Wales, Bangor have come together in four joint research centres, which will receive £10.95 million.
The Guardian

£1m scientific 'gospel' of Newton's greatest rival
A manuscript charting the birth of modern science that was lost for centuries has been rediscovered at the bottom of a cupboard. The 520-page document, an account of meetings and debates at the Royal Society from 1661 to 1691, was written by Robert Hooke, one of the foremost 17th-century scientists and a bitter enemy of Sir Isaac Newton. It is described as the "discovery of a generation". It has been put up for auction at Bonhams in London and a fundraising campaign to save it for the nation has been started by the Royal Society. Felix Pryor, of Bonhams, said: "This is, for historians of science, the equivalent of finding one of the original gospels."
The Times, The Daily Telegraph

Start date for work on stem cell centre
Construction work on a new £35 million centre for stem cell research at Edinburgh University is expected to get under way this summer. The Centre for Regenerative Medicine, to be built at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary at Little France, will include the most advanced technologies now available in stem cell research, development and manufacture. University bosses this week invited construction firms to submit bids for the project, which is expected to take up to four years to build and kit out. The scientist who cloned Dolly the sheep, Professor Ian Wilmut, will be in charge of the centre. The university has done pioneering work in the stem cell field and was recently highlighted in the report of the UK Stem Cell Initiative.
The Scotsman

Father of Tyrannosaurus is unearthed in China
Fossils of the earliest known relative of Tyrannosaurus rex - one of the largest of the meat-eating dinosaurs - have been unearthed in the desert "badlands" of western China. A scientific analysis of the fossilised remains has revealed the creature lived some 160 million years ago, about 90 million years before T. rex , and had an ornamental bony crest on its nose. Scientists believe that the dinosaur belongs to the same group of extinct animals that gave rise to T. rex . Like other tyrannosaurs, it was a carnivore that walked on two legs, although it was substantially smaller than its more famous cousin.
The Independent, The Daily Telegraph, The Scotsman, The Times, New Scientist

Regarding the Leeds Met part-timer who won a court case over pay.
The Independent

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