Today's news

February 17, 2006

Oxford chancellor warns institute of technology will be waste of EU funds
The chancellor of Oxford University has weighed into a row over plans to set up a prestigious European institute of technology by warning the project would divert scarce resources away from existing research centres. Lord Patten, who was also the former European commissioner for foreign relations, attacked as wasteful the proposal by José Manuel Barroso, European Commission president, to spend €2 billion (£1.4 billion) on setting up an organisation on the lines of the US's Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He said the commission should focus money on existing institutions. "Europe already has one or two institutions which do as well as MIT and many more of which would be able to do so if they were better funded.”
The Financial Times

Boris Johnson loses election
Boris Johnson, the Conservative MP and Daily Telegraph columnist, has lost the race to become the new rector of Edinburgh University. Mr Johnson, 41, who is shadow secretary for higher education, was beaten in the second round of voting by local Green MSP Mark Ballard, with Magnus Linklater, former editor of The Scotsman , coming second. Investigative journalist and documentary maker John Pilger was voted out in the first round. At the start of his campaign Mr Johnson said he thought the job of rector would be "a fantastic opportunity to be an ambassador for a world-class institution and helping students and staff get their voices heard".
The Daily Telegraph, The Scotsman, The Guardian

Student had a natural talent for the sport she found 'so scary'
When Shelley Rudman first heard the term "skeleton" while a sports science student at Bath University, she had to ask what it was. That was almost five years ago. A friend of Rudman's had pointed out Alex Coomber, Britain's number one skeleton slider who four months later won the bronze medal at the Winter Games in Salt Lake City. Coomber's performance in the first women's Olympic competition proved a massive inspiration and within a few months Rudman was trying the sport for herself at the university's push-start training facility. Later the same year, the budding 400 metres hurdler paid £400 to have a go at the real thing in Lillehammer, Norway.
The Daily Telegraph, The Times

Palace prizes for university research
Universities and colleges were honoured by the Queen today for academic achievements including research into combating global disease and tackling pollution. More than 20 higher and further educational establishments received awards for excellence at Buckingham Palace. The winners of the awards, which are organised every two years by education charity the Royal Anniversary Trust, were selected by a panel of judges. Chancellors from the prize-winning universities attended the ceremony in the palace ballroom. Among them was American senator George Mitchell, chancellor of the Queen's University of Belfast. "The Queen asked me how much time I spend in Belfast now. I told her I regard Northern Ireland as my second home so I go back as often as I can."
The Guardian

Students still want to follow in royal footsteps
The Prince William effect is still being felt at St Andrews University, with applications to study there soaring. The number of applicants has risen by 11.1 per cent in the past year, the largest increase in Scotland and one of the biggest in the UK. There are now 11 hopefuls for every available place at the university for the 2006-07 academic year. Although the rise is nowhere near the 44.6 per cent jump the university experienced when Prince William began his history of art course in 2001, officials said they were delighted that 12,072 school-leavers were clamouring to get in, compared with 10,865 this time last year.
The Scotsman

Official plans to fight pandemic 'rely too heavily on ineffective drug'
The Government's plans to deal with an influenza pandemic rely too heavily on a drug that may be ineffective, according to a former health adviser. Peter Dunnill attacked the plans as unrealistic. He said the Department of Health had placed too much emphasis on stockpiling Tamiflu, which faces problems with virus resistance and distribution, and not enough emphasis on making enough vaccine to protect the population from the H5N1 strain. The DoH has also wildly overestimated the amount of bird flu vaccine that could be made to protect the public, according to the director of the Advanced Centre for Biochemical Engineering at University College London.
The Daily Telegraph

Bristol University does not discriminate against applicants from any school.
The Daily Mail

The campaign for an academic boycott of Israel has not given a fair representation of the words of the British ambassador to Israel.
The Guardian

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