Today's news

March 6, 2006

Lecturers' pay demands backed by 120 MPs
Around 120 MPs have signed a Commons motion backing lecturers' demands for better pay ahead of tomorrow's national strike that threatens to disrupt universities. Sally Hunt, general secretary of the Association of University Teachers, said: "Lecturers' pay has declined by 40 per cent in relative terms over the past 20 years." The AUT and fellow lecturers' union Natfhe have warned that thousands of students could fail to graduate if the dispute drags on. Last night, the Universities and Colleges Employers' Association said academics' earnings had risen by 20.3 per cent between 2001 and 2005.
The Guardian

Animal rights protest puts £375m aquatic centre at risk
The National Institute for Research into Aquatic Habitats is due to open in 2011 and could generate at least 2,000 jobs at Stewartby, near Bedford. The scheme will be four times as large as the Eden Project in Cornwall and will employ the same designer, Nicholas Grimshaw. It will include research centres for scientific study and commercial exploitation of biotechnology opportunities. The latest architectural drawings reveal undulating translucent roofs covering pools and rivers. Surrounding the complex will be esplanades, lakes, topiary mazes and fountains.
The Guardian

New York is next target of animal rights group
Animal rights activists targeting Oxford University are taking their campaign to America, where extremists were last week convicted of inciting terrorism. Protesters will single out clubs and restaurants hosting reunion events arranged by the Oxford Alumni Association of New York. It is the first time that Speak, a group opposed to the construction of a £20 million research facility at the university, has taken its protest abroad. Pro-Test, a group in favour of animal testing, could also take its message across the Atlantic. The organisation, founded by Laurie Pycroft, a 16-year-old schoolboy from Swindon, to show support for the Oxford laboratory, has been invited to speak in the US.
The Times

Scientists hope daffodil crop will help tackle dementia
Farmers in Wales could soon be growing fields of daffodils to provide a cheap source of a compound used in drugs to combat dementia. Trials to harvest the country's national flower - and Wordsworth's inspiration - for its medicinal qualities are under way and the scientist behind the idea hopes full-scale local production could begin next year. Trevor Walker and colleagues hope to perfect methods of extracting the compound from bulbs, and land in the Black Mountains has been turned over to growing raw material. Studies carried out with the Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth, have been encouraging, said Professor Walker.
The Guardian

Nessie the elephant?
One of Britain’s leading palaeontologists claims that he has finally solved the riddle of the Loch Ness monster. According to Neil Clark, curator of palaeontology at Glasgow University’s Hunterian Museum, unexplained sightings of a monster in the loch could, in fact, be of an elephant. Dr Clark, who spent two years investigating the myth, suggested yesterday that the idea for Nessie was dreamt up as a “magnificent piece of marketing” by a circus impresario after he saw one of his elephants bathing in the loch. In 1933, the same year as the first modern “sighting” of Nessie, Bertram Mills offered £20,000 - £1 million in today’s money - to anyone who could capture the monster for his circus at Olympia, London, sparking international interest.
The Times

Thin people still need to exercise
Men and women who are naturally thin still need to exercise or they risk suffering high cholesterol and heart attacks by the age of 40, according to research published today. A study has found "bad" LDL cholesterol, which clogs the arteries, is much higher in lean non-exercisers than in those who regularly do physical activities. Gary O'Donovan, an exercise physiologist at Brunel University in London, examined heart disease risk factors in 37 lean exercisers, 46 lean non-exercisers and 28 obese non-exercisers.
The Scotsman

From the weekend's papers:

Saturday

  • University staff set to walk out in pay dispute. The Scotsman
  • Oxford students have voted to retain the tradition of wearing full academic dress during examinations. The Times
  • Over the past ten years there has been a 47 per cent increase in the number of students achieving a first at university. The Daily Telegraph
  • Students to protest over blood donor ban on gays. The Scotsman

Sunday

  • Who wants to be an engineer? Just 50 a year, say universities. The Independent On Sunday
  • Student council tax exemption costs councils £80 million a year in subsidies. The Sunday Telegraph
  • Lenders want to include student loan information in customer profiles. The Independent On Sunday

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