Today's news

February 13, 2006

Oxford woos Indian students
Lord Patten of Barnes will lead an attempt by Oxford University to recruit India’s brightest students in direct competition with Ivy League rivals in the United States. The university’s chancellor will visit India next month in an attempt to dispel the university’s “conservative, stuffy image”. Lord Patten, a former European Commissioner and Governor of Hong Kong, said last night that serious universities needed a coherent strategy for recruiting students from India and China. There are about 17,000 Indian students in Britain compared with nearly 80,000 in the United States, where leading colleges are better funded than their British equivalents.
The Times, The Financial Times

Oxford pledges £5m annually for trailblazing research
Oxford University has pledged £5 million a year to help fund pilot projects and encourage young academics to conduct more research. The John Fell OUP research fund, financed by Oxford University Press, will initially run for five years and encourage applications for projects in all subject areas, particularly those in interdisciplinary fields. It will provide "seed corn" funding for pilot projects that are judged to have the potential to open new avenues of research but would otherwise not attract external funding at such an early stage of development. The fund builds on similar early initiatives by the university, such as the Research Development Fund.
The Guardian

Home Office 'sexed-up research'
Research on Home Office projects to cut crime is being “sexed-up” to sell them to the public, criminologists say in an academic journal. Reece Walters of Stirling University says that the Home Office is “only interested in rubber-stamping the political priorities of the government of the day” and urges academics to boycott government work. Elsewhere in the magazine of the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies at King’s College London, Tim Hope of Keele University says that the Government used only material endorsing a particular way of cutting burglaries. The centre’s director, Richard Garside, said yesterday that the Home Office stood accused of “cherry-picking the results of research”. Enver Solomon, the deputy director, said: “Evidence is being sexed-up.”
The Times, The Independent, The Scotsman

Map underwater noise to protect marine life, say scientists
Underwater noise from naval exercises, oil rigs and pleasure cruises in UK waters should be mapped and monitored to protect sensitive marine life, a high-level committee of experts reports today. It wants ministers to introduce new regulations to protect whales, dolphins and other sea life, which are affected because they rely on sound to communicate, feed and navigate. Peter Liss, professor of environmental science at the University of East Anglia, who chaired the group, said: "The sea is a much noisier place than it was ten years ago and there is a growing body of evidence that it could cause these animals physiological harm."
The Guardian

Laboratories to sign research deal
An agreement will be signed enabling pioneering laboratories in Scotland and Japan to work together to tackle some of the most difficult challenges facing medical science. The collaboration between the Systems Biology Institute in Tokyo and Edinburgh University's College of Science and Engineering is expected to pave the way for groundbreaking work in the field of systems biology. It is hoped the emerging discipline will unlock many of the secrets associated with the treatment and development of disease in humans and other animals.
The Scotsman

Oral flu vaccine for children does away with the misery of needles
Scottish scientists have developed a child-friendly flu vaccine that can be taken by mouth and gives double-pronged protection afforded by traditional jags. Researchers at Strathclyde University proved that their vaccine, which can be drunk as a syrup, produces protective antibodies in the inner lining of the throat, nose and lungs as well as the blood. Injected vaccines generate antibodies in the bloodstream, so are effective at fighting off the virus only once it is circulating around the body. But as flu is caught by breathing in the virus from infected patients, the immunity developed in the mouth from the oral vaccine can begin to fight the disease as soon as it is inhaled.
The Scotsman

From the weekend's papers:


  • Derby is getting a royal opening for its new domed campus building. The Guardian
  • Nottingham Trent is holding a networking event for entrepreneurs. The Guardian
  • Fees trigger 4 per cent drop in the number of university applications. The Guardian


  • Middle-class parents are exploiting the anti-public school bias of leading universities by sending their children to poor comprehensives and then paying for private tuition. The Mail On Sunday
  • Universities may make physics more appealing by substituting exams for fun and involving projects and presentations. The Mail On Sunday

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