Today's news

October 4, 2006

Oxford reforms 'essential' ahead of fees rise
Controversial reforms to the management of Oxford University and its student admissions policy are "essential" if the university is to be allowed to charge more than £3,000 in tuition fees, the vice-chancellor said yesterday, in a last-ditch attempt to persuade critics to accept them. A new admissions system, designed to be less daunting to applicants who would not traditionally choose Oxford, has angered some academics. But John Hood, the vice-chancellor, said the new arrangements, combined with extremely generous bursaries available for students from poorer backgrounds, would help Oxford to lobby government when it reviewed the fees cap in 2009.
The Financial Times, The Times, The Daily Telegraph

Infosys sets up UK graduate scheme
India’s Infosys Technology is planning to expand a graduate hiring programme to the UK under which the company has already recruited more than 100 US graduates for training at its facilities in India before eventual deployment back in their home markets. The move, which follows criticism in the West that Indian outsourcing companies are stealing jobs in developed countries, will kick off next year with a pilot programme for 25 students picked from 12 universities across Britain, including Cambridge, University College London and Nottingham University.
The Financial Times

Cascade set for £1m 2006
Cascade Technologies, the three-year old-Strathclyde University spin-off specialising in gas, emissions and explosive detection lasers, is set to achieve a turnover of £1 million this year. And future growth is likely to be boosted by a recent £4 million deal to monitor BP's refinery emissions over the next three years. Cascade, whose new premises in Stirling University Innovation Park were officially opened by enterprise minister Nicol Stephen yesterday, has pioneered the commercialisation of Quantum Cascade Lasers, invented by Bell Labs in the United States in 1996 and adapted for commercial use by Irwin Norman at Strathclyde University.
The Scotsman

Champion of top-up fees to retire
Sir Ivor Crewe, the vice-chancellor of the University of Essex who helped mobilise university leaders in favour of top-up fees, today announced that he is to retire in September 2007. Sir Ivor, 60, has been vice-chancellor of Essex since 1995, and from 2003 to 2005 he served as president of Universities UK, the body that represents the heads of all UK universities. He was knighted in the 2006 New Year's honours list. Sir Ivor an authority on British elections who clearly relished seeing the political battle at first hand as the Government came within a whisker of losing its Commons majority over fees, rallied and cajoled his fellow vice-chancellors into supporting ministers and lobbying Labour MPs.
The Guardian

'Social capital' pioneer leads joint UK-US social project
A leading US academic is to head up a joint project between Harvard University and Manchester University aimed at a better understanding of the challenges of contemporary society. The programme, Social Change: A Joint Project of Harvard and Manchester, will be directed by Robert Putnam, from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, who is renowned for his influential research into community ties known as "social capital". As part of the project, Professor Putnam will take up a part-time visiting professorship at Manchester for five years.
The Guardian

Largest 3D map of nearby galaxies released
The largest three-dimensional map of galaxies in the nearby universe has been released by an international team of astronomers. It may shed light on the nature and distribution of dark matter, which cannot be seen but appears to outweigh ordinary matter by a factor of six to one. The map probes galaxies as far out as 600 million light years from Earth. Other surveys have studied more distant objects, but none has explored such a wide region of space. "It covers the whole sky," says team member John Huchra, an astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts, US.
New Scientist

Breast milk will not make your baby clever, mothers told
Breast-fed babies may turn out to be cleverer than bottle-fed babies but it is because their mothers are more intelligent and not because of the qualities of human milk, researchers say today. For nearly 80 years, the association between breastfeeding and intelligence has been investigated by scientists with most studies finding higher intelligence scores in breast-fed children. But research from the Medical Research Council says that many of the studies made the mistake of not taking the mother's intelligence into account.
The Daily Telegraph, The Independent, The Scotsman

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