Today's news

September 26, 2006

US maintains visa ban on Muslim academic
The US government has refused to grant a visa to the Muslim scholar Tariq Ramadan, a vocal critic of the US invasion of Iraq, but has dropped earlier charges against him of supporting terrorism, it has emerged. Mr Ramadan, a Swiss citizen and a visiting fellow at Oxford, said he received an official letter clearing him of the charges that prevented him taking a job at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana. But the US sustained the visa ban, imposed in 2004, saying that Mr Ramadan had contributed $600 (£400) to a group providing humanitarian aid to Palestinians. Janelle Hironimus, a State Department spokeswoman, said a US consular officer had last week denied Mr Ramadan's application for a temporary business and tourism visa based on new information the government had learned about the scholar.
The Guardian, The Scotsman

Olympics to play part in university languages drive
Universities are hoping to harness enthusiasm in the run-up to the London Olympics in 2012 to improve the UK's dismal record when it comes to learning foreign languages. Launching a £4.5 million programme to encourage more young people to study language degrees, the Higher Education Funding Council for England said one strand would be to investigate how best to ensure a lasting legacy for the London Olympics, in terms of promoting languages, culture and internationalisation as previous host nations have done. It will look at the role that universities and colleges have in preparing communities for the Olympics and in harnessing the event to promote interest in schools.
The Guardian

Universities face bankruptcy
It's crunch time for universities. As the higher education sector waits for the impact of top-up fees to kick in, vice-chancellors are predicting that some universities may be forced to declare themselves bankrupt. Despite an overall increase in university admissions, some institutions have not reached their admissions targets. This is raising fears that the new competitive market in education will create losers as well as winners. But some vice-chancellors believe that market forces should be allowed to run their course.
The Times, The Times Higher Education Supplement (Sept 22)

Former Iranian president to receive honorary degree
The University of St Andrews is to award an honorary degree to Iran's reformist former president Seyed Mohammad Khatami. The university, which has awarded honorary degrees to the musician Bob Dylan, actors Michael Douglas, Helen Mirren and Joanna Lumley, and a number of international golfers, will present Mr Khatami with the title Doctor of Laws at a ceremony in St Andrews on October 31. Mr Khatami, the president of Iran from 1997-2005, will deliver a lecture and also inaugurate the university's Institute for Iranian Studies.
The Guardian

University to create own power
Loughborough University has announced plans to generate all of its own electricity in a bid to cut carbon dioxide emissions. For the past five years, the university has sourced its power from renewable energy sources, but it said it could cut its carbon emissions by 1,200 tonnes a year through generating electricity on site. Work on a £1.3 million scheme to build a new combined heat and power plant on the main campus has already begun and it is expected to be operational by March next year. It will work alongside a similar plant set up in 2003, which already supplies energy to the Holywell Park area of the campus.
The Guardian

Student troubles mount
University support services are struggling to cope with increasing numbers of students with serious mental health problems, a mental health charity says. Students in Mind, a charity due to be launched next month, says that the demand for counsellors is so high that students are being told they must join waiting lists of six weeks or more. The number of students with known mental health problems rose by 81 per cent between 2002 and 2005, according to figures from the Higher Education Statistics Agency.
The Times, The Times Higher Education Supplement (Sept 22)

'Supergene' that paints butterflies is pinpointed
Scientists have found a "supergene" that paints the stripes, spots and rays on a surprisingly diverse range of butterflies. Butterfly wings provide an opportunity for scientists to understand how nature creates patterns and reveal how new species evolve, such as the non-poisonous butterflies that mimic the wings of poisonous types that birds avoid. A genetic study of a range of South American butterflies, published yesterday in the journal PLoS Biology , has found that the same molecular pattern-forming machinery is at work in three different species of Heliconius butterflies: Heliconius melpomene and Heliconius erato , which look the same, and Heliconius numata, which looks different.
The Daily Telegraph

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