Today's news

July 17, 2006

Imperial College taps bond market for £50m
Imperial College London is to raise £50 million for new student facilities and other estate projects via a 50-year bond. The deal is the largest to date for a British university and covers the longest time period. Imperial, which specialises in scientific research, has issued a 30-year bond in the past, but Martin Knight, the university's chief operating officer, said the new placement had allowed Imperial to borrow at even more competitive rates. "The more the investment committee looked at it, the more we realised that the further out we went, the cheaper the rate was." The Government and a small but growing number of companies have taken advantage of demand from pension funds for 50-year bonds.
The Financial Times

Shortage of top-grade students threatens skills crunch in India
India is facing the prospect of a skills “crunch” unless it acts immediately to tackle the danger of labour shortages, according to one of the country’s leading industry figures. Lakshmi Narayanan, vice-chairman of Nasscom, the software industry body, has said that India must do more to recruit new university teachers to continue turning out high-calibre graduates. “If we don’t do something now in terms of creating new faculties, we will have a supply crunch and some industries will come under pressure,” he said. Educational institutions have problems themselves from the burgeoning IT and back-office services industry.
The Times

Students accuse Lib Dem MSP of 'betrayal' over top-up fees
Students are to target Liberal Democrat MSP Mike Pringle over what they claim is his "betrayal" over top-up fees. They say he promised to oppose Scottish Executive plans for higher fees for medical students from south of the Border - but then voted in favour of the move. Mr Pringle, who is defending a slender majority of 158 in Edinburgh South at next year's Scottish Parliament elections, denies he said he would definitely vote against the extra fees. But leaders of the Edinburgh University Students' Association have produced a photograph in which the MSP posed with them to promote their campaign.
The Scotsman

Pupils' taste of university life
Pupils from 35 state schools in the Lothians are to get a unique taster of student life by attending university for one week. The 140 pupils, who all start their sixth year next month, today began their five-day stints at Edinburgh, Napier and Queen Margaret universities, as well as the Scottish Agricultural College. Pupils taking part selected introductory "tasters" from a range of 50 subjects from Chinese to Media Relations. They will be working with staff and current students from across the universities.
The Scotsman

Immune system key to ageing process
The keys to fighting the diseases of old age – and even slowing down the ageing process itself – lie in understanding inflammation and the immune system, gerontology researchers told the Euroscience conference in Munich. The latest research shows that, in old age, a failing immune system frequently triggers inflammation in many parts of the body. This in turn causes chronic disease. Claudio Franceschi of the University of Bologna, who studies people who live beyond the age of 100, coined the term “inflammageing”. “There is a strong inflammatory element in all the major diseases of ageing,” he said. “The body tries to adapt by producing anti-inflammatory compounds” but human biology eventually fails.
The Financial Times

What shape is a pebble?
A seaside conundrum has been solved: what shape is a pebble? The answer, of course, is 'pebble-shaped'; but now, thanks to research by a team in France and the United States, it's possible to define what that means. Technically speaking, says material physicist Doug Durian of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia and his colleagues, a pebble is a rounded body with a near-gaussian distribution of curvatures. While no two pebbles are exactly alike, all seem to end up with this mathematical form. And once this shape is attained, it never changes (in lab experiments, at least). As a large pebble is ground down to a tiny grain, it retains this classic pebble shape.

From the weekend's papers:


  • A combination of tuition fees and high accommodation costs may deter students from low-income families. The Guardian
  • Glasgow University to sell technology investment portfolio for £5 million. The Scotsman
  • Edinburgh University has warned students and tutors to expect disruption as a series of building works are carried out. The Scotsman


  • The London College of Fashion has hired a chaplain for spiritual guidance. The Sunday Times
  • Reforms to the student loans systems set for 2009 have met with resistance. The Mail On Sunday
  • Private schools offer 'survival training' to tackle university drop-out rate. The Scotsman

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