Today's news

July 13, 2006

Lecturer who said 'blacks were inferior' retires early
A university lecturer who was suspended after claiming black people were intellectually inferior to whites has taken early retirement. Frank Ellis, of Leeds University, told the student newspaper at Leeds University that he supported a theory that whites were generally more intelligent. He was suspended in March and yesterday the university said the Russian and Slavonic studies lecturer had left permanently, on 30 June. The university disclosed that that the 53-year-old had retired on the same standard terms available to his colleagues but indicated it had agreed to pay him a year's salary and to make a contribution towards his legal costs, in return for his agreeing to bring forward his retirement a year sooner than he had wanted.
The Independent, The Guardian

Second union votes to accept pay offer
Amicus yesterday became the latest union in the higher education sector to formally accept a 13.1 per cent pay offer from employers, with more than 93 per cent of its members backing the deal. Amicus members, who include clerical, technical, skilled and academic or related staff, voted to accept an extra 13.1 per cent over three years, nine months after the pay claim was first submitted to the Universities and Colleges Employers' Association. Members of GMB have also formally accepted the deal. The University and College Union, created from the merger of Association of University Teachers and the lecturers' union Natfhe, will know the result of its ballot on Monday.
The Guardian

Studies showing sex bias are ignored, says transsexual professor
Women are not advancing in science because of discrimination, says a male professor who has an insight into the debate on whether male brains are better suited to science. Professor Ben Barres, 51, knows only too well how the male-dominated scientific establishment treats women compared with men. Nine years ago he was called Barbara. Today, he draws on his own experience as "a female-to-male transgendered person" to write a remarkable commentary in the journal Nature . Lawrence Summers, a former Harvard University president, caused a furore when he raised the possibility that the dearth of women in the upper levels of science is rooted in biology, whether due to a lack of drive or a fundamental difference in the wiring of their brains.
The Daily Telegraph

More women walk corridors of academia
An increasing proportion of women now hold academic posts and the number of female professors is slowly rising, according to a report by the funding council Hefce. However, the report, published today, shows that the mean salary for male academics is still £5,000 more than that of their female counterparts. About 18 per cent of men earn more than £50,000, compared with only 6 per cent of women. The report found that the proportion of women in academic posts rose 9 percentage points to 36 per cent between 1995 and 2005. The proportion of women professors doubled over the same period, although from a low starting point - from 9 per cent to 19 per cent.
The Guardian , The Times Higher Education Supplement (July 14)

Shows business given the master's touch
A drive to raise standards and the quality of management in the £9 billion-a-year exhibitions industry is being launched by the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham, the biggest in the business. The NEC has teamed up with the Birmingham-based University of Central England to mount a course offering a professional diploma and master's degree in exhibition management. Andrew Morris, chief executive of the NEC, wants the course to wake up an industry struggling to raise its profile and attract more big international events. He says the industry has been a "sleeping giant", making a major contribution to the economy but without formal qualifications or "real training" in its management ranks.
The Daily Telegraph

Fall in number of Scots going for degrees
The number of young Scots entering higher education has dropped to its lowest point in almost a decade, prompting warnings that Scotland's economy could suffer unless ministers do more to ensure there are sufficient numbers of graduates to fill degree-level jobs. Official figures released yesterday showed that 46.4 per cent of school-leavers enrolled in degree-level courses in 2004-5 - a drop of 2.5 per cent on the year before. Although there is no official participation target in Scotland, ministers aim to have about 50 per cent of school-leavers in higher education.
The Scotsman

Money a concern for overseas students, poll finds
International students are increasingly happy with the standard of teaching at UK universities, but identify a lack of money as the worst aspect of studying in Britain, a new survey shows. Unite, the student accommodation company, yesterday launched the International Student Experience report in partnership with UKCOSA: The Council for International Education. The findings of the survey are based on interviews with 1,025 students, including 357 international students, from 20 universities across the UK. More than 80 per cent of international students said the standard of teaching and lecturing at their universities was either good or very good.
The Guardian

Remains found of the flesh-eating kangaroo
Flesh-eating kangaroos galloped around Australia more than 10 million years ago, along with an oversize bird scientists jokingly describe as the "demon duck of doom". The killer kangaroo, known as Ekaltadeta, was uncovered at the Riversleigh fossil fields in north-west Queensland, along with 20 previously unknown species, including the fearsome carnivorous duck and a prehistoric lungfish. "This is truly extraordinary material," said Professor Mike Archer, of the University of New South Wales, who investigated the world heritage site in Lawn Hill National Park with a team of 80 researchers. "This would have been a weird place to our eyes."
The Daily Telegraph, The Independent

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