Today's news

March 22, 2006

University towns 'pay higher council tax'
Residents in university towns are paying millions of pounds in extra council tax because of a loophole in the way the Government assesses students, a Conservative MP said yesterday. Worst affected are council tax-payers in Nottingham, where non-student households pay an additional £19 a year on average, followed by Tower Hamlets in east London and Manchester with £14 and Reading with £10, according to Grant Shapps, MP for Welwyn Hatfield, who says pensioners are effectively footing the bill for students. He calculates that residents in university towns in England are paying about £82.5 million more than they should in total because local authorities are missing out on compensation from the Government for the students living in their areas. This has led, in some cases, to higher council tax rises.
The Guardian

Scots universities threatened with second pay dispute
Scots universities could be hit by a second wave of strikes over pay, it emerged last night. Members of the Association of University Teachers will decide on Saturday whether to hold ballots on industrial action over a dispute dating back two years. Academic staff are already in dispute with their employers over their demands for a 20 per cent pay rise over the next three years. Lecturers staged a one-day strike earlier this month and are boycotting marking students' work. But it has now emerged that separate industrial action could take place over the failure of universities to implement a key element of the 2004 pay deal.
The Scotsman

Britain second in world research rankings
Britain's scientists are punching above their weight and come second only to the US in the impact of their research, according to a new study released by the Department of Trade and Industry yesterday. Lord Sainsbury, the science minister, said the report into the outputs and outcomes from UK science confirmed the continued success of the UK research base. The study, undertaken by Evidence Ltd on behalf of the Office of Science and Technology, looked at papers published in academic journals and how often they were cited by other researchers as a measure of the impact they made in their field.
The Guardian

Medical education 'at breaking point'
Fewer British doctors are prepared to battle time pressures, a lack of recognition and underfunding to teach medical students in hospitals, a conference was told yesterday. The British Medical Association's conference of medical academics in London heard that increasing student numbers and the opening of new medical schools had left medical education at breaking point in the UK. Professor Sir Charles George, the chairman of the BMA's board of medical education said many challenges faced medical education, including a lack of appropriate teacher training, teaching methods and funding shortfalls.
The Guardian

Chatting bus driver ran over cyclist
An Oxford University student cycling to classes was killed by a bus whose driver was chatting to a colleague and driving too fast, an inquest was told yesterday. Emilie Harris, 20, was crushed under the wheels of the single decker bus after she was knocked off her mountain bike two years ago in Oxford city centre. Ms Harris, a first-year student of human sciences at St Catherine’s College, died instantly. The inquest was told that the driver, Paul Willis, 47, was chatting to colleague Henry Stuart who was standing on a platform at the front of the bus seconds before the student was killed.
The Times

University honour for Spitfire designer
The man who designed the Spitfire is to be honoured with university scholarships bearing his name. RJ Mitchell was the chief designer for Supermarine and designed the plane in 1935. The warplane went on to help win the second world war and 22,000 were made. Mr Mitchell did not live to see the impact his design would have as he died of cancer in 1937, aged only 42. Now the University of Southampton, where Supermarine was based, is launching new undergraduate scholarships for academic excellence at the university's school of engineering sciences.
The Guardian

Charles calls for religious tolerance
Prince Charles told Muslim scholars and students on Tuesday that the backlash over Danish cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammad showed the danger of religious insensitivity and intolerance. Addressing 800 people at al-Azhar University, the heir to the throne who will one day become head of the Church of England said mistrust between the West and Islam was having "dreadful results" and urged tolerance. "The recent ghastly strife and anger over the Danish cartoons shows the danger that comes of our failure to listen and to respect what is precious and sacred to others," he told the audience at one of Sunni Islam's top seats of learning.
The Scotsman, The Daily Telegraph, The Times

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