Today's news

March 15, 2006

London Met 'threatening independence of student union'
The students' union at London Metropolitan protested today against plans by the university to end its autonomy. The university said it was seeking to make the union more democratic and accountable to students. The union said management was trying to neuter its role as a watchdog and prevent it from challenging the university in the interests of students. A suggested constitution which goes to the board of governors next week for approval proposes that senior managers from the university take overall charge of the students' union. Last year the students' union issued a statement in support of industrial action by lecturers against London Met but then withdrew it "for legal reasons" under pressure from the university.
The Guardian

CBI warns of drop in science graduates
The country is suffering an erosion in graduates with core science and technology degrees and will face a skills crisis if the Government does not take urgent action, the leading business organisation has warned. John Cridland, deputy director-general of the CBI, said in an interview that the fall in the number of graduates was like a "car crash in slow motion". He added: "We're going to wake up one morning and find that it's overseas countries that have this very important cluster of science and engineering skills and we don't. The decline in science study isn't yet a crisis but it will haunt us unless we address it now."
The Financial Times

Tell pupils copying is theft, says professor
Children should be taught at school that copying work is theft unless they attribute quotations and ideas, according to a leading adviser on combating plagiarism. Jean Underwood, of Nottingham Trent University, said that the “culture of academic dishonesty” must be stamped out. Professor Underwood’s comments come only days after teachers were given a guide to spot cheating and the chief disciplinary officer at Oxford University warned tutors to be vigilant about plagiarism in student essays, which was “becoming a serious problem”. In 2004 about a quarter of all students said that they had plagiarised work at least once.
The Times

Union condemns Scots university fees
Student leaders have attacked a planned hike in Scottish university fees for those coming to study from the rest of the UK. Leaders of the National Union of Students Scotland told MSPs the Executive was guilty of a "knee-jerk reaction" to the introduction of top-up fees of up to £3,000 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. And they said there was no evidence to suggest there was a problem with "fee refugees" - students from the rest of the UK coming to study in Scotland because it was cheaper. James Alexander, the deputy president of NUS Scotland, spoke out against Executive proposals to increase fees for most courses to £1,700 a year - and £2,700 for medicine students.
The Scotsman

Newcastle students protest at art library closure
Fine art students at the University of Newcastle will protest today in a last ditch attempt to convince management to save the institution's dedicated art library. The university plans to close the fine art library and move most of the collection to its main Robinson library, placing the less used resources in storage. Students argue that their dedicated art library is being closed to make way for the expanding master of digital media programme. All librarians from the art library would be transferred to Robinson, a university spokesman said, because the library was being relocated rather than closed.
The Guardian

Students offered 100% mortgages to become landlords
Students are being encouraged to become landlords by taking out a mortgage under a new scheme launched this week. Undergraduates can take out 100 per cent mortgages on properties worth up to £250,000 then rent out spare rooms to cover the repayments. The package is being launched by Bath Building Society, which claims to be the first lender in the UK to offer such a deal to students. The product is aimed at students in Bath and Bristol, but could be expanded to other university cities. Malcolm Graham-Jones, the building society's head of lending, said it was a good way to get on the property ladder.
The Guardian

First volunteers sought for UK Biobank project
The world's largest medical experiment was launched yesterday in Altrincham, Cheshire, with the first 3,000 of a target half a million people invited to take part. UK Biobank is a "visionary project" aimed at improving the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, dementia, joint disease and many other serious illnesses for generations to come, say the Government and the Wellcome Trust charity. One researcher likened it to an "epidemiological microscope" that will reveal why some people will die before they get old. But the project has attracted controversy over its long gestation.
The Daily Telegraph, The Guardian

Letter
Regarding the closure of the chemistry department at Sussex University.
The Times

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