Today's news

May 4, 2006

MPs warn on science departments
The Government must seize more control over universities to stop them closing science, technology, engineering and mathematics departments, MPs have demanded. In the Commons science and technology committee’s report on Sussex University’s plans, the MPs warned that the Higher Education Funding Council, responsible for distributing £6 billion annually to universities, must be given more power to protect departments deemed to be vital to the country's economic well-being.
The Financial Times, The Daily Telegraph, The Times, The Guardian, The Times Higher Education Supplement (May 5)

Second university offers lecturers pay deal
Another Scottish university has decided to go it alone in an attempt to break the nationwide deadlock over the lecturers' pay dispute. Aberdeen University offered its academic staff a 12 per cent pay increase over the next three years - just as St Andrews University did 24 hours earlier. The Association of University Lecturers has demanded a 20 per cent rise and is taking industrial action in pursuit of its claim. Following a one-day strike in March, lecturers began a boycott of assessment and marking, leading to fears that thousands of students might not be able to graduate. 
The Times Higher Education Supplement (May 5) , The Scotsman, The Guardian

Judge to give directions on Cambridge stabbing case
A judge is today expected to give directions in the trial of a hospital consultant accused of attempting to murder her husband's mistress. Alethea Foster, 61, of Bromley, Kent, stabbed Cambridge University student Julie Simpson, 45, 17 times during a "frenzied" attack in October 2005, Cambridge crown court has heard. Ms Simpson, who was attacked in her room at Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge, but lives in Beckenham, south London, lost the sight of her right eye as a result of the attack.
The Guardian

Concern over university gender gap
The number of girls entering higher education is increasing at more than five times the rate of boys, according to figures released yesterday. Statistics released by the Scottish Executive show that between 1999-2000 and 2004-5, the number of female higher education students increased by 11 per cent to 156,615. Over the same period the number of male higher education students increased by just 1.4 per cent to 120,090.
The Scotsman

Shell offers students a meeting of minds
A new drive is under way to break down barriers between employers and university graduates eager to gain their first experience in the world of work. Shell is spearheading the campaign in association with advisers, universities and other institutions after being swamped with applications from students wanting to take advantage of a business intern placement programme run by the oil giant. Applications outnumber placements - about a 1,000 a year - by seven to one because the Shell team struggles to find enough employers willing to take on students nearing the end of their academic period for a summer term.
The Daily Telegraph

Activists go ape over Edinburgh milk tests on monkeys
Animal rights activists today hit out at Edinburgh University for using monkeys for research into the long-term effects of soy milk on the health of baby boys. Scientists from Edinburgh University's Medical Research Council Human Reproductive Sciences Unit are investigating whether feeding the milk to babies could harm their chances of having children of their own. But animal rights activists, including the Vegan Society and the National Anti-Vivisection Society, as well as fashion designer Stella McCartney, have condemned the research, which involves clinical tests on baby marmoset monkeys.
The Scotsman

Oven roast vegetables may be bad for teeth
The current fashion for oven roasted vegetables, might be healthy for your body but could be bad for your teeth, a new study claimed yesterday. Researchers at the University of Dundee found that cooking vegetables such as courgettes, onions and peppers in the oven increased their acidity compared with traditional stewing and boiling. That, in turn, increased their corrosiveness. Their findings came as another study released yesterday suggested that tooth erosion, caused by acidic food, was becoming as big a threat to dental health as tooth decay caused by sugar.
The Guardian, The Scotsman

Journals 'regularly publish fraudulent research'
Fraudulent research regularly appears in the 30,000 scientific journals published worldwide, a former editor of the British Medical Journal said today. Even when journals discover that published research is fabricated or falsified they rarely retract the findings, according to Richard Smith, who was also chief executive of the BMJ publishing group. When journals decide not to publish studies because they suspect misconduct, they often fail to alert the researchers' employers or medical authorities, such as the Department of Health and the General Medical Council, he added.
The Guardian

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