Today's news

March 27, 2006

Oxford aspires to riches with US-style fund
A new fund was launched this morning to manage money for Oxford University colleges in an attempt to mimic the success that America's Ivy League universities have had in boosting their incomes. Led by Karl Sternberg, a former chief investment officer at Deutsche Asset Management, Oxford Investment Management will start with a total of around £100 million from three colleges. Balliol has joined Christ Church and St Catherine's colleges as majority shareholders in the new business. They hold 60 per cent of OXIM, with the remainder held by its management.
The Independent, The Times, The Daily Telegraph

Iranian hawk swoops on universities to crush dissent
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is cracking down on Iran's universities in an effort to crush a student pro-democracy movement and strengthen the hardliners' grip on power. Leading student activists have been jailed or expelled from their studies, and lecturers have been sacked, while the government has proposed subjecting academics to strict religious testing. The authorities have also begun a programme of burying the bodies of unknown soldiers on campus grounds in what student leaders say is a thinly disguised attempt to bring religious extremists into the universities on the pretext of holding "martyrs' ceremonies". Students fear that such a presence will be used to violently suppress their activities.
The Guardian

Failing colleges may face private takeover
Plans to allow private companies to take over under-performing further education colleges are to be announced by the Government today. The plan is included in proposals for the future of the country's 388 FE colleges to be published in a white paper. It will be launched by Gordon Brown alongside Ruth Kelly, education secretary. Mr Brown is keen to underscore his commitment to press ahead with further reform of the education system and will set out to show he is no "roadblock" to the reform of public services, as the Conservatives claim.
The Financial Times, The Guardian

Germans are brainiest (but at least we're smarter than the French)
A new European league of IQ scores has ranked the British in eighth place, well above the French, who were 19th. According to Richard Lynn of the University of Ulster, Britons have an average IQ of 100. The French scored 94. But it is not all good news. Top of the table were the Germans, with an IQ of 107. The British were also beaten by the Netherlands, Poland, Sweden, Italy, Austria and Switzerland. Professor Lynn, who caused controversy last year by claiming that men were more intelligent than women by about five IQ points on average, said that populations in the colder, more challenging environments of Northern Europe had developed larger brains than those in warmer climates further south.
The Times

Scientists 'silence gene' to slash cholesterol levels
A single injection of a new type of drug could cut cholesterol levels by two thirds and significantly reduce the risk of heart disease and blocked arteries, a study has found. Scientists have successfully interfered with the gene involved in producing high levels of harmful cholesterol in the bloodstream using a treatment that promises to revolutionise medicine.
The Independent

Hidden CJD is new threat to thousands
Thousands of people in Britain may be infected with variant CJD, the human equivalent of mad cow disease, without knowing it, research suggests. Experiments have confirmed that it is possible for a much wider group of people than had been assumed to be infected with the incurable brain condition. The presence in the population of undetected carriers of the infection has serious implications for the safety of the blood supply, and it increases the risk of passing on CJD to others through infected surgical instruments.
The Times

Baghdad blog in the running for £30,000 book prize
An anonymous Iraqi woman has become the first blog author to be in the running for a big literary prize for a book published between hard covers. Baghdad Burning , by a 26-year-old author who has won an international readership under the pen name Riverbend, is longlisted for the £30,000 Samuel Johnson award. The small literary publisher Marion Boyars brought out Baghdad Burning last year, classifying it under biography and memoir. University-educated Riverbend worked as a computer programmer before the invasion which began on March 20, 2003.
The Guardian, The Times

From the weekend's papers:


  • Lecturer who said whites had higher IQ is suspended. The Independent
  • A new scholarship programme from the US for engineering, science and technology students is to be launched. The Times
  • Male students more likely to skip lectures, study shows. The Guardian


  • Nobel Prize winning scientist joins fight to save Sussex University's chemistry department. The Observer
  • Taxes will hit graduates hardest. The Mail On Sunday
  • Student doctors are demanding a crackdown on the infamous binge-drinking culture that starts in medical schools. The Scotsman
  • Some of Britain’s leading scientists have accused the BBC of “quackery” by misleading viewers in an attempt to exaggerate the power of alternative medicine. The Sunday Times

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