Today's news

March 14, 2006

Scientists rally to save chemistry department
Scientists are mobilising to stop the University of Sussex closing its highly rated chemistry department that has produced two Nobel prize winners and is becoming increasingly popular with undergraduates. Chemical and pharmaceutical organisations said the proposed closure, announced at the weekend, would damage Britain's reputation as a good location for research-based industry. The university said it would no longer provide traditional chemistry degrees, although half of its academic chemists would be offered jobs in a new department of chemical biology. The Sussex chemists have rejected the move, which they say is window-dressing for shutting down their subject.
The Financial Times

Internet plagiarism 'is rife at Oxford'
Plagiarism at Oxford appears to be rife among both undergraduate and postgraduate students, with most of it passing unnoticed by examiners and tutors, the university admitted for the first time yesterday. Alan Grafen, the senior proctor, who is the university's chief disciplinary officer, said the number of students copying other people's work without acknowledgement threatened to undermine the worth of an Oxford degree. He said the problem had become so serious that all students should be required to sign an affidavit for every piece of work they submitted, though he acknowledged that it might not prove much of a deterrent.
The Daily Telegraph, The Times

Old Europe 'being outpaced by Asian higher education'
The most powerful economies of "Old Europe", including France, Britain and Germany, are struggling to keep up with a huge expansion of higher education in Asia, a new report has found. The survey, by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, warns the members of the European Union to increase spending on schools and universities and tackle a crippling lack of social mobility within their societies or put future economic growth in jeopardy. ''The time when Europe competed mostly with countries that offered low-skilled work at low wages has gone. Today, countries like China and India are starting to deliver high skills at low costs," the report said.
The Daily Telegraph

Students take jobs protest to elite Paris college
About 200 students invaded one of Paris's most elite colleges last night, clashing with riot police as protests intensified against the government's plans to curb France's youth unemployment. The students swarmed into the College de France, one of France's most prestigious research and teaching institutions, hurling stones and metal barricades at riot police who used teargas to try to disperse the chanting crowd. Dozens of students barricaded themselves inside the university as others faced down police on the street. They demanded the prime minister, Dominique de Villepin, withdraw his measures to alleviate France's high levels of youth unemployment. One in four young people in France is unemployed, but the figures rise to 50 per cent in the poor suburbs.
The Guardian, The Times, The Financial Times

New pharmacy school for Lancashire
The University of Central Lancashire is to open a new school of pharmacy in a bid to combat a shortage of pharmacists in the area. The school of pharmacy and pharmaceutical sciences will be part of UCLan's faculty of science and will accept its first intake of students in autumn 2007. The school will occupy a newly refurbished, custom-designed space on the Preston campus. The Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain has approved the £2.35 million investment.
The Guardian

Overseas student numbers rise
British universities recruited 6 per cent more students from outside the UK last year, according to figures published yesterday by the Higher Education Statistics Agency. Although good news for university bank balances, the rate of increase slowed compared to the previous year, and vice-chancellors have expressed concern about recruitment this year. China still supplies by a large margin the biggest group of overseas students - including postgraduates - followed by India, the United States, Malaysia and Hong Kong. In 2004-05 there were 318,000 students from outside the UK, including continental Europe.
The Guardian, The Scotsman

Decision to close climate change research sites is flawed, say experts
Four leading research centres that focus on wildlife and climate change are to close despite widespread opposition to the move from Britain's scientific elite, officials confirmed yesterday. The centres, which include the world-famous laboratory at Monks Wood in Cambridgeshire, will be shut as part of a restructuring of facilities owned by the Natural Environment Research Council. Experts in ecology have warned that the decision to close the sites is "scientifically flawed" and will threaten UK efforts to understand the impact of climate change. Staff at the sites have made several discoveries about the impact of humans on the natural world: Monks Wood research revealed that spring now arrives in Britain three weeks earlier than 50 years ago.
The Guardian

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