Today's news

March 20, 2006

Oxford online learning project folds
An e-learning venture by Oxford University, with Yale and Stanford in the US, has folded after failing to attract enough students. A joint announcement was slipped out quietly by the three universities, which face an embarrassing blow to their prestige. The failure follows the collapse of a series of American university ventures and the £62 million debacle of the UK's e-University. Oxford today declined to disclose how much money it lost on the AllLearn project, launched in the heady days of the dotcom boom in 2001.
The Guardian

Open University unlocks Russia’s closed cities
Inhabitants of closed nuclear cities in the Russian Federation have been given the opportunity to develop their managerial skills, thanks to an innovative distance learning programme. The Open University Business School, along with its Russian partner organisation, the International Institute of Management Link, have produced programmes aimed at people who wish to change careers, as the nuclear weapons industry declines. More than 20 people in Zheleznogorsk – one of the closed cities – have studied with Link on the Professional Certificate in Management programme.
The Financial Times

Warwick signs deal with IBM
Warwick Business School in the UK has signed a £5 million agreement with IBM Europe, Middle East and Africa to offer its MBA via e-learning over the next three years. The programme will combine web-based distance learning, with bespoke print materials, face-to-face workshops and an individual tutor network. Warwick Business School is experienced in distance learning and dean Howard Thomas believes this helped the school secure the IBM deal.
The Financial Times

Gene hope for eczema and asthma sufferers
The gene that causes dry skin and predisposes people to eczema and asthma has been identified by scientists. The discovery could lead to new treatments for conditions that affect millions of people, and was welcomed yesterday by a range of charities concerned with skin conditions. According to researchers at the University of Dundee, the gene is the one whose job it is to create the protein filaggrin, which is normally found in the outermost layers of the skin. The protein is vital to ensure that the skin forms a barrier to keep water in and foreign organisms out.
The Times, The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, The Scotsman

Uneven breasts linked to cancer
Women who have one breast larger than the other may have a raised risk of developing breast cancer, with the likelihood increasing the greater the asymmetry, research suggests. A study by scientists from the University of Liverpool, published this week in the US journal Breast Cancer Research , found that women whose breasts differed in volume by 100ml were 50 per cent more likely to suffer the disease.
The Times, The Guardian, The Scotsman, The Independent

Did Earth seed life elsewhere in the Solar System?
Earthly bacteria could have reached distant planets and moons after being flung into space by massive meteorite impacts, scientists suggest. The proposal neatly reverses the panspermia theory, which suggests that life on Earth was seeded by microbes on comets or meteorites from elsewhere. Both theories envision life spreading through the Solar System in much the same way that germs race around a crowded classroom, says Jeff Moore, a planetary scientist at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California. "Once one planet comes down with life, they all get it."
Nature

Letter
Degrees are not needed for engineering jobs.
The Times

Letter
There are far more than 3,000 places for medical students in the UK.
The Times

From the weekend's papers:

Saturday

  • Academics have voted strongly against the closure of the chemistry department at the University of Sussex. The Financial Times
  • Students and staff have protested against the lecturer Frank Ellis after his racist comments. The Guardian
  • Trinity College, Cambridge, has recruited a leading hedge fund manager. The Financial Times

Sunday

  • Universities could be sued by students if lecturers strike. The Independent On Sunday
  • MBA courses are increasingly offering students the chance to study abroad. The Independent On Sunday
  • New deal could ease fear of tuition fee debt. The Mail On Sunday

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