Today's news

May 17, 2006

MPs intervene in lecturers' pay dispute
MPs will question union leaders and university vice-chancellors today over the lecturers' pay dispute, which is disrupting exams. An emergency session of the Commons education select committee has been called as universities seek to find ways of awarding degrees in the absence of final-year marks for course work and examinations. Barry Sheerman, the chairman of the committee, said MPs were very concerned about the boycott of marking and assessment. "It is shaping up to be very damaging to higher education and to people's careers," he said. The two sides in the dispute will give evidence to the committee separately.
The Daily Telegraph, The Financial Times

Liverpool students to stage protest over cancelled exams
Students at the University of Liverpool will stage a protest on Friday to voice their "anger and frustration" over the cancellation of dozens of final-year exams. The president of the Liverpool students' guild, Irfan Zaman, said the university was one of the hardest hit by the striking lecturers' marking boycott. Mr Zaman said at least 20 exams had been cancelled and although hundreds had been set, there were no guarantee that the papers would be marked. He said: "Students really just want to be able to vent their frustration and anger."
The Guardian

Violence feared in Indian caste row
The spectre of violent anti-caste demonstrations loomed over India last night after the government vowed to press ahead with plans to reserve almost 50 per cent of seats in colleges and universities for lower-caste and other disadvantaged Indians. After four days of street demonstrations that have halted work at many of the country's hospitals and led to clashes with police, the Indian education minister, Arjun Singh, ruled out withdrawing the proposal. The protesters said they would not stop until the government relented.
The Guardian

Foreign students say Scotland is best for overseas learning
Scotland's university lecturers have been rated the best in the world by overseas students. A survey of nearly 16,000 undergraduates around the globe found that those studying in Scotland were the most satisfied with the expertise of academic staff. Overseas students also rated Scotland the best in the world for providing a multicultural learning environment, and it was judged to be the safest country for students in the UK. The findings were unveiled yesterday at a Glasgow conference on international learning.
The Scotsman

Colorado professor cited for misconduct
The investigation of a University of Colorado professor who likened September 11 victims to Nazis has found serious cases of misconduct in his academic research, including plagiarism and fabrications, a university spokesman said yesterday. One member of the five-person investigative committee recommended that ethnic studies professor Ward Churchill be fired, and four recommended that he be suspended, university spokesman Barrie Hartman said. The state's governor, Bill Owens, said Professor Churchill had tarnished the university's reputation and should resign.
The Guardian

NUS calls for better sexual health provision
Students are to meet the public health minister, Caroline Flint, next month to urge her to tackle the growing rates of sexually transmitted infections in young people. The National Union of Students has organised the meeting following a rally last month, where, along with the Terrance Higgins Trust, it called on primary care trusts to guarantee that students are able to get an appointment at a sexual health clinic within 48 hours of making an inquiry.
The Guardian

Garden's foul-smelling attraction
Thousands of Germans flocked to the botanical garden of Bonn University to witness the freak appearance of three flowers on a titan arum, a giant member of the lily family notorious for its vile smell. Amorphophallus titanum , which comes from Sumatra and is also called the corpse flower, lives for 40 years but flowers only three or four times. The garden’s website stated: “Our example is the only one in the world to put out several flowers simultaneously.”
The Times

Flying does not cause blood clots, say experts
Conditions particular to travelling on a long-haul flight, such as low air pressure and reduced oxygen, do not increase the risk of potentially lethal blood clots, research indicates. A study into the causes of deep vein thrombosis, which kills thousands of Britons every year, suggests that the clotting is not a result of circumstances unique to flying but is chiefly caused by sitting down for too long in a confined space. The research highlights the danger of any travel that involves long periods of inactivity, including by rail and road.
The Times

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