Today's news

May 9, 2006

Students fear graduation chaos
Students’ fears that they may be prevented from graduating this summer worsened last night when academics rejected the latest pay deal offered by universities. Three teaching unions, led by the Association of University Teachers, said the offer of 12.6 per cent over three years was worth less than 11 per cent in take-home cash. The union has instructed its members not to set any examinations this summer in support of a campaign for a 23 per cent rise by 2009. Its fellow union, Natfhe, has told its members not to mark course work or invigilate exams.
The Times, The Guardian

Chinese graduates face struggle for jobs
China is bracing itself for a glut of graduates later this year, with three out of five university leavers expected to join the ranks of the unemployed. Despite the heightened expectations created by the economic boom, the job market for graduates is shrinking. The authorities say the number of university leavers will increase by 22 per cent to 4.1 million, while the number of positions has shrunk by 22 per cent to 1.7 million. Newspapers are filled with reports of intense competition for jobs, with the pressure driving students to suicide, and stories of graduates who decide to become pig farmers.
The Guardian

College can grant its own degrees
The College of Law today becomes the first private higher education institution to be given the power to grant its own degrees. The news means that students who take the graduate conversion diploma plus the Legal Practice Course or Bar Vocational Course will emerge with an LLB. This will be particularly attractive to non-law graduates and the college expects that some, already enrolled on other conversion courses, will want to switch to the college for this September. It is offering to refund students’ deposits to other institutions.
The Times, The Guardian

Animal rights extremists threatening letter to GSK investors
The extremist campaign against animal research moved to a new level yesterday when private GlaxoSmithKline shareholders received threatening letters, demanding they sell their shares within 14 days or face public exposure. Campaigners have not previously targeted individual investors in a multinational company. The unsigned letters - from a previously unknown group called Campaign against Huntingdon Life Sciences - reached shareholders in Monday's post. GSK said about 50 worried recipients, mainly elderly people, contacted the company but it had no way of knowing how many of its 167,000 registered shareholders would receive them.
The Financial Times, The Independent, The Daily Telegraph

Money to be made in student hotspots
Aberdeen and Glasgow are investor hotspots for the student accommodation sector, according to the latest research by Knight Frank. An analysis of returns from student accommodation compared with other property asset classes paints a positive picture for the sector overall, which benefits from more stable demand than traditional commercial property. Aberdeen recorded the UK's fourth-largest percentage increase in students between 2000-1 and 2003-4, up 16.52 per cent or 4,405 students, behind Nottingham, Plymouth and Warwick.
The Scotsman

Show your gratitude
Unlike universities, which have adopted determined strategies to touch their graduates for money over recent years, colleges tend to leave their former students alone. That could be about to change. A number of colleges are taking the first steps towards systematic fundraising by setting up alumni associations. So far, however, the few that have them insist they are not being run to bring in cash. According to the colleges, they are being established to help former students keep in touch with one another, and any benefits to the college will be in kind rather than cash. For instance, successful former students are asked to come back to speak to the existing student body.
The Guardian

Theft invented to excuse late essay
A student was fined £80 by police for falsely claiming that his laptop had been stolen, to get more time to do his coursework, police said yesterday. The 22-year-old was struggling to meet a dealine at Manchester Metropolitan University. He confessed to inventing the attack when questioned by police. A spokesman for MMU said the university took a "dim view" of his actions.
The Independent

Deafness gene has health benefit
Researchers have concluded that a gene responsible for most cases of hereditary deafness may have an unexpected benefit: it may protect you from infection. Stella Man, a member of David Kelsell's team at Queen Mary, University of London, spoke at the European Society of Human Genetics meeting in Amsterdam today, 8 May. She announced that the Cx26 protein encoded by a deafness gene might help wounds to heal. Faster healing should help to prevent infection, for example by limiting bacteria's access to the blood after surgery, she says. "It's speculation, but maybe the Cx26 deafness mutations have been selected owing to their beneficial effects on wounds."
Nature

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