Today's news

May 3, 2006

University steps in over pay row
Academics at St Andrews have been urged by the university and their local union representatives to accept a 12.5 per cent pay rise over three years. The offer, which amounts to half the amount called for nationally, is evidence of the tensions caused by the action of the 48,000 members of the Association of University Teachers. The teaching union has instructed all of its members not to set any examinations this summer, as part of a campaign for a 23 per cent pay rise by 2009. Its fellow union, Natfhe, has told its members not to mark coursework or invigilate at exams.
The Times

Vice-chancellors launch new lobby group
Jockeying for position between universities in the UK intensified this week as a group of middle ranking institutions announced they have set up a body to lobby for their interests. The alliance has attracted 18 universities - both new and old - and hopes to enrol up to 30 that are not represented by the three existing lobbying groups. Its first action is to press for the retention of the 2008 research assessment exercise, which some vice-chancellors are trying to scrap.
The Guardian

University attacks Executive's tuition fees hike plan
A leading university has launched a scathing attack on the Scottish Executive's plans to raise tuition fees dramatically for English students. Officials at Glasgow University say the move is "premature" and "excessive". Ministers argue that the fee rises, which will see medical course charges increase from £1,200 to £2,700, are necessary to prevent English students heading north in search of cheaper degrees. A consultation exercise into the controversial fee rises ended in January and responses indicate widespread opposition to the move.
The Scotsman

Payback times for graduates
Graduates are being warned of the dangers of paying off their student loans before tackling more expensive debts. With average graduate debt now topping £11,200 and the average student loan at around £7,000, it is very tempting to start by tackling this big debt. However, credit cards, overdrafts and bank loan repayments should all be a priority, since they can be racking up significantly higher rates of interest. More than 250,000 new graduates will have started paying back bills as high as £15,000 from their university education.
The Daily Mail

Big new asteroid has slim chance of hitting Earth
A newly discovered asteroid is now the biggest thing known with a possibility of hitting the Earth in this century – and it is also the one that could hit the soonest. But the odds of impact currently stand at just one in six million, reducing the fear factor somewhat, and these odds should further diminish with additional observations. This latest addition to Nasa's list of potentially hazardous asteroids was discovered on April 2006. The asteroid, called 2006 HZ51, has an estimated diameter of about 800 metres and is the one of the largest objects ever to make the list.
New Scientist

Sufferers of Type 2 diabetes 'are three times more likely to die by 54'
People with Type 2 diabetes are three times more likely to die between the ages of 35 and 54 than those without the condition in the same age group, a study has found. The study of more than 44,000 people diagnosed with the condition found that across the age groups women were more than twice as likely to die and men were nearly twice as likely to die than those without it. It is the first time that the level of the raised risk of death has been confirmed in younger adults. The study is published in the journal Diabetic Medicine .
The Daily Telegraph

Scientists gain insight into invisibility through a complex superlens
Scriptwriters will be pleased to discover that this science fiction idea is deemed today to be closer to science fact than we realised, according to a paper published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences . Professor Graeme Milton, of the University of Utah, and Nicolae-Alexandru Nicorovici, of the University of Technology, Sydney, announced, "we have found that cloaking might be realised". The "making of an object invisible through some cloaking device is commonly regarded as science fiction", said Professor Milton.
The Daily Telegraph

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