Today's news

March 7, 2006

Race inquiry into lecturer who says blacks are less intelligent
The Commission for Racial Equality has stepped into a row over a university lecturer who claims that black people are, on average, less intelligent than whites. Students at Leeds University have called for Dr Frank Ellis to be sacked. But the university says academics have the right to their personal opinions. It will not act unless the students produce evidence of prejudicial treatment, which they have not alleged.
The Daily Telegraph

Oxford applications on the rise
Oxford University has bucked the national trend of falling university applications with a rise in the number of students applying to study at the institution in the autumn. University applications fell nationally for the first time in six years this year, with almost 13,000 fewer students applying to go to university compared to 2005, figures released by admissions service Ucas showed. Rising tuition fees, which will be as high as £3,000 at some universities, have been linked to the drop in applications but Oxford says its prospective students have not been deterred by the fee increase.
The Guardian

Students quizzed over links to al-Qaeda
Four university students are being questioned by anti-terrorist police on suspicion of involvement with the al-Qaeda network. Three of the four were arrested during a late-night raid at the University of Bradford halls of residence on Friday. The fourth, aged 19, was detained shortly afterwards in Bradford. Two 18-year-olds and a 19-year-old were taken to London for questioning and the fourth is being held by West Yorkshire Police. All are believed to be British and are being questioned about terrorist activities abroad.
The Independent, The Guardian

Scientists in revolt against cuts that will undermine Britain's climate research
A torrent of high-level opposition is building up to the proposals to scrap Britain's three leading wildlife research centres, which are due to be voted on tomorrow. More than 1,000 formal objections have been received by the Natural Environment Research Council to its plans to close the centres at Monks Wood, Cambridgeshire, Winfrith in Dorset and Banchory near Aberdeen. The scheme, which will also see 200 wildlife scientists sacked, has caused anger among environmentalists, many of whom believe more, not less, specialised wildlife research is needed to protect Britain's habitats and species from growing threats, especially climate change.
The Independent

Cocaine traces at the Oxford Union
It is the most prestigious debating society in the world. In its glory days, the Oxford Union attracted luminaries such as Sir Winston Churchill, Richard Nixon and the Dalai Lama. But now its fame has been tarnished by the discovery of traces of cocaine in its lavatory cubicles. Reporters from the Oxford University newspaper Cherwell found the evidence of drug-taking in clubs and pubs frequented by undergraduates when they tested the lavatory cubicles of 17 venues frequented by students. Traces of cocaine were found at 11 of the venues.
The Independent

Plea to lecturers over disruption
Thousands of university lecturers are being urged to keep disruption to a minimum at campuses across Scotland as they stage a one-day strike. Members of the Association of University Teachers in Scotland are walking out over pay and will picket colleagues arriving for work. The union said many of the country's older universities will be hardest hit. But a spokesman for Edinburgh University said not all staff were AUT members. A spokesman for Glasgow University said it regretted the AUT's decision.
The Scotsman

Universities should produce quality scientists not spin-offs, says expert
Universities should give up trying to turn scientific discoveries made by their staff into commercial enterprises and instead concentrate on supplying industry with high-quality scientists, a technology entrepreneur said yesterday. In a controversial lecture at Cambridge University Stephen Allott, chairman of Trinamo, a management consultancy for technology companies, said much of the £100 million spent by the Government on encouraging universities to create spin-off companies was ineffective.
The Financial Times

University to engineer aid
University leaders have pledged cash to a new charity initiative which provides technical problem-solving for developing and disaster-hit countries. The Moffat Centre at Napier University is helping to fund EngineerAid with an undisclosed sum for its work in providing specialist assistance around the world through linking engineering experts with technical problems via the Internet.
The Scotsman

Diet and habitat have caused recent tweaks in human DNA
Scientists have spotted signs of recent evolution in the human genetic code, suggesting that diet and changes in habitat have had a lasting effect on our make-up. In one of the first detailed scans of the entire human genome, researchers discovered more than 700 tweaks to genes they believe have arisen in the past 5,000 to 10,000 years, a period of time that saw humans spread north from equatorial regions and develop agriculture as a means of securing food. As the fledgling human race encroached on new territories, shifts in climate and food saw that the best-adapted genes survived as less useful variations disappeared from the population.
The Guardian

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