Today's news

March 8, 2006

Cambridge trims exams over strike
Cambridge University is introducing emergency measures to award students degrees without requiring them to sit all their exams. The move is an attempt to thwart academics who are refusing to set or mark examination papers in a pay dispute. But union leaders have accused the university of undermining standards by “guessing at” the quality of students’ work to break the strike. Sally Hunt, of the Association of University Teachers, said: “No student should be placed in a position where their degree is called into question.”
The Times

Lecturers vow to continue action over pay
Lecturers attending a London rally vowed that today's marking and examinations boycott would continue until a deal is struck over their pay dispute. Less than 100 lecturers were at the rally in Westminster, addressed by the Association of University Teachers, the lecturers' union Natfhe and the National Union of Students. But despite the disappointing turn out, the unions described the strike as "an outstanding success" with classes cancelled at most universities across the UK. The general secretary of the AUT, Sally Hunt, told the rally she was "personally mortified" that, from tomorrow, students would not have their work marked or their exams set.
The Guardian, The Scotsman

Blair: new visa rules 'fairer' for foreign students
Tony Blair yesterday told a group of students in India that a new points-based immigration system would make it "easier and fairer" for them to study and in Britain. In a video conference with New Delhi, the prime minister told the students that the system would ensure that "highly skilled" workers needed by Britain would still be able to migrate. However, Mr Blair added that the new rules were necessary to prevent "abuses" of the system that may have occurred in the past. "We want students to come and study in our universities and we want highly skilled workers that we need for our economy, but we want to prevent abuses of the immigration system," he said.
The Guardian

Beware academic alligators
Under the new Charities Bill the universities are to lose their “exempt” status, writes Terence Kealey, Vice-Chancellor of Buckingham University. Historically the universities, though charities, have been exempt from the regulation of the Charities Commission, but under the Bill they are to be regulated like other charities. Fair enough. Yet the Charities Commission is not going to do the regulation itself. Instead it will devolve that task to the Government’s funding councils, which are to be the Principal Regulators of the universities. So the very bodies that principally fund and principally direct the universities are also to be their principal regulators.
The Times

Tory group sounds education warning
A group of Conservative MPs have warned that too many students are going to university even though they are not able to benefit from higher education. Tory leader David Cameron has said that anyone who thinks they can gain from taking a degree should be given the chance to go to university. In a new article, the right-leaning Cornerstone group of Conservative MPs argued that this point had already been reached. The group said students who take degrees in traditional arts subjects would be worse off as a result.
The Scotsman

Race row lecturer censured
The lecturer who claims that black people are on average less intelligent than whites has been called in by his employers to explain how his public stance on race is consistent with the university's values of respect, diversity and equal opportunity. Stung by criticism from the Commission for Racial Equality over its failure to act in response to complaints from students, Leeds University issued a statement yesterday denouncing the views attributed to Dr Frank Ellis as "abhorrent to the overwhelming majority of our staff and students". Dr Ellis, a lecturer in Russian and Slavonic studies, said on Monday that "factual and scientific" evidence showed the average IQ of blacks was well below that of whites which was why Africa was behind the West economically.
The Daily Telegraph

Universities call for more action to attract foreign academics
Scotland must do more to attract the best foreign academics to help the country continue to compete on the international stage, university leaders have warned. The introduction of top-up fees in England will give Scotland's nearest neighbour greater ability to poach the best minds from around the globe, they claimed. The warning follows signs that England's higher education sector is stepping up its attempts to import academic talent.
The Scotsman

Letters
Regarding the animal research/welfare debate.
The Guardian

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