Today's news

June 2, 2006

Jobs to be axed as pay row deepens
University staff will lose their jobs in order to fund an inflation-busting pay rise for lecturers, it was announced last night. Glasgow Caledonian University became the first in the country to confirm staff will be made redundant to make the savings necessary to fund a proposed pay deal of at least 13.1 per cent. Although the principal, Pamela Gillies, said any redundancies would be voluntary "wherever possible", she admitted that there may have to be compulsory lay-offs. Academic posts are among those that could be cut. Other universities have said they are considering a recruitment freeze, while one has announced that it is postponing millions of pounds worth of building projects as a cost-cutting measure.
The Scotsman

Students in protest against lecturers
Students demonstrated yesterday against lecturers "holding their future to ransom" by refusing to mark exams. After lecturers' unions rejected a proposed national 13.1 per cent pay rise over three years, about 100 students marched round the University of Kent's Canterbury campus chanting: "Give us our marks." Emma Powell, president of the student union, urged the lecturers to "grow up and get back to the table". "We don't want to be used as leverage any more," she added. "We do support the Association of University Teachers and their demands for better pay, but we just want our marks."
The Daily Telegraph, The Independent

Lectures? Simply plug in
The days of vast lecture halls filled with bored, hungover students falling asleep may be over. In what is being likened to the printing revolution of the 16th century, podcasts may soon replace lectures. Forcing undergraduates out of bed to visit campuses is not the best way to teach, researchers have found. Academics are investigating how they might use digital technology and MP3 players to help students. Lecturers are already using podcasts to supplement lectures.
The Times, The Times Higher Eduction Supplement (May 26)

Cambridge chef has recipe for success
Students at a Cambridge University college will be receiving special help with their exams this term - from the chef. Hans Schweitzer, the Michelin-starred head chef at Queens' College, has created a special healthy-eating plan for undergraduates, designed to combat stress at exam time. Mr Schweitzer, who has cooked for the Queen and prime ministers, will offer more choices of healthy food to try to lure students off junk meals as they enter the critical period in the academic year.
The Daily Telegraph

Don't give permanent jobs until exam results known, firms told
Employers have been advised to delay offering permanent jobs to students whose degrees are affected by the lecturers' industrial action until they receive confirmation of their final marks. The Association of Graduate Recruiters advised companies to hire university leavers this summer even if the pay dispute means they are left without degrees. But it said employers should keep recruits on probation until the examination results are in.
The Scotsman

Students turn to smart drugs for exam help
Students preparing for end-of-term exams are using a new generation of "smart" drugs such as Ritalin, which can boost brain activity and keep healthy adults awake for more than 36 hours at a time. Experts have said that the use of such medication by young people - commonplace in the US - is becoming an increasing cause for concern in Scotland. The smart drugs, also known as nootropics, include a range of powerful prescription medications. But they can also be bought over the web - about £8 for a month's supply - without a prescription.
The Scotsman

New test offers speedy reading of genetic make-up
American scientists have ushered in an era of personalised genetics by reading an individual's entire genetic make-up in record time. Researchers used a new technique called DNA barcoding to scan six feet of unravelled genetic material plucked from a single cell of a donor, which took just two weeks. The multimillion-dollar Human Genome Project, which produced the first draft of the human genetic code in 2000, took three years to complete.
The Guardian

Space shuttle set for July launch
The space shuttle Discovery could be in orbit this time next month, according to Nasa engineers who have given the craft's troublesome fuel tanks a clean bill of health. "Based on what we know today, there is no reason not to launch on July 1," said N. Wayne Hale Jr, manager of the shuttle programme. The assessment comes after engineers removed about 16kg of insulating foam from the shuttle's main fuel tank (less than 1 per cent of the total), to reduce the risk of falling debris.

Regarding the university pensions scheme.
The Financial Times

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