Today's news

March 24, 2006

Lecturer is suspended for 'racist' IQ claims
A university lecturer who claimed that black people were less intelligent than whites was suspended from his post yesterday. Frank Ellis, a lecturer in Russian and Slavonic Studies, was sent home on full pay by the University of Leeds, which accused him of breaching its obligations to promote racial harmony under the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000. It is the first significant test of academic freedom since the introduction of the Act, which places a duty on public bodies to promote equality of opportunity and good relations between different races.
The Times, The Guardian, The Times Higher Education Supplement (Mar 24)

Group to develop new research funding model
A working group to develop a successor to the research assessment exercise, the demise of which was announced in the budget, was set up yesterday. The group will be jointly chaired by David Eastwood, the acting chief executive of the funding council for England, Hefce, and Sir Alan Wilson, the director-general for higher education at the Department for Education and Skills. It will include representatives from the funding councils for Scotland and Wales, the Department for Employment and Learning in Northern Ireland, the Treasury and the Office of Science and Technology.
The Guardian

Universities facing strike by lecturers after funding boost
Universities in the Scottish Capital were yesterday put on strike alert after receiving record funding of £282 million by the Scottish Executive. The city's three universities, as well as Edinburgh College of Art and Queen Margaret University College, have been awarded above-inflation rises in funding. The cash awards were instantly seized on by university lecturers' union leaders who said their members would demand a substantial share of the money.
The Scotsman

Royal Society moves to block sale of £1m manuscript
The Royal Society is trying to block the auction of a 17th-century manuscript that charts the beginning of modern science. Britain's premier scientific academy believes the 520-page document, by the scientist Robert Hooke, may have been stolen from its archives 300 years ago. But the decision to try to block the sale, due on Tuesday, has infuriated the auctioneer Bonhams, which has accused the society of duplicity. "They are negotiating on one hand to buy and seeking public funding for this while publicly issuing threats or bringing pressure to bear via the media," said Julian Rupe, a spokesman for Bonhams.
The Guardian

Prize for mathematician who paved way for iPod
A £500,000 prize that is considered the "Nobel" for mathematics has gone to an 80-year-old Swedish academic whose work on the complexities of soundwaves has subsequently been used in the electronic components of iPods. Lennart Carleson seemed slightly bewildered at the news he had won the Abel prize, named after a Norwegian mathematician. "They just called me up," he said, "It's a thing you don't really expect to happen. There are many good candidates, why should it be me?" How did he react to the news? "I just said 'thank you'."
The Guardian

No evidence oily fish have health benefits, study finds
For at least 20 years doctors have been urging their patients to eat more oily fish to benefit the heart. Adding two servings a week of mackerel, salmon and similar fish to the family shopping list was believed to help fend off cardiovascular disease. Now a major new study suggests the advice is wrong. Scientists who reviewed 89 studies of omega-3 fats, the key constituent of fish oils thought to protect against heart disease, found no clear evidence that they are of any use at all. Researchers from the University of East Anglia and eight other institutions say that when the results were pooled they showed no strong evidence that omega-3 fats had an effect on overall deaths, heart disease, stroke or cancer.
The Independent, The Times

World's largest bar-staff health study
Scientists at Aberdeen University are to lead a major study - believed to be the largest in the world - to investigate the impact of the smoking ban on the health of the nation's bar staff. Researchers from the university's department of environmental and occupational medicine are to monitor the health of 350 bar staff across the country during the next nine months in a £140,000 study funded by NHS Scotland.
The Scotsman

Letter
Jobs in engineering are most easily accessed through the degree route.
The Times

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