Today's news

September 27, 2006

Tories urge extra research funding
University departments that put time and effort into helping academics turn their research into commercial ventures should receive extra research funding, the Conservatives said yesterday. The research assessment exercise, the method for allocating research funds to university departments, should be "adjusted" to reward academic time spent on developing spin-out companies and licensing deals, said David Willetts, the education spokesman. Mr Willetts, who made his remarks at a venture capitalists' conference on turning science into successful businesses, also suggested City workers help bolster the number of science graduates teaching in schools.
The Financial Times

Report outlines plans for US university shake-up
Universities in the United States are unprepared for the challenges of an increasingly diverse student population and a competitive global economy, according to a higher education commission. The Spellings Commission on the Future of Higher Education was set up in September 2005 to develop a new higher education strategy and published its final report and recommendations on September 19. In a speech to the National Press Club in Washington earlier this week, the US education secretary, Margaret Spellings, outlined the problems and put forward five key recommendations to ensure higher education becomes more affordable, more accessible and more consumer-friendly.
The Guardian

Pub smoking ban 'has improved health'
The ban on smoking in public places will improve health, if a study in the Irish Republic is any guide. Professor Luke Clancy, of Trinity College Dublin, said that his investigations showed clear evidence that the ban has cleaned up the air in licensed premises and restaurants and improved the health of the people who work in them. “Prior to the smoking ban being introduced, we knew intuitively that it would bring health benefits, but now two years after the ban, we have quantative proof,” he said. “Our research has shown that particulate matter in the air, which is a feature of some pollution, has decreased by up to 80 per cent in pubs, and workers are breathing better. This is the first time we have measured the pollution and measured the effects.”
The Times

£2m centre to boost stem cell research
A £2 million stem cell research centre will help turn Scotland into a "global leader" in the technology. The Roslin Cell Centre, to be set up in Edinburgh, will involve Edinburgh University, the Roslin Institute and the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service. It will build on the country's growing reputation as a centre of excellence for this branch of science, which holds the prospect of new treatments for brain diseases and for people paralysed by severe spinal cord injuries. The centre, which will provide stem cell lines for research and therapy, will initially be based at Roslin - home of the world's first cloned adult mammal, Dolly the sheep - before relocating to the £600 million centre for biomedical research near the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary at Little France.
The Scotsman

Serial burglars 'as skilled as surgeons'
If burglars put their skills to lawful use they could be as talented as surgeons or pilots, says a study. Claire Nee and Amy Meenaghan, psychologists at the University of Portsmouth, have concluded that housebreakers use speed and efficiency that was potentially an "untapped resource for employers". Their findings follow interviews with 50 serial burglars at Winchester Prison. They believe that had the felons focused on a lawful job they could have climbed to the top of the career ladder. Their study, Expert Decision-Making in Burglars, published in the British Journal of Criminology , suggests thieves should be classed alongside professional men and women because they perform complicated tasks automatically and with a high degree of skill.
The Daily Telegraph

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