Today's news

October 6, 2006

Imperial College splits from University of London
The University of London today lost one of its most prestigious member institutions - but hopes to expand, with other institutions joining. The divorce with Imperial College was formally agreed last night at a meeting of the University of London council with both parties professing themselves satisfied. The departure of Imperial, headed by the ebullient business captain Sir Richard Sykes, in time for its centenary in 2007, does not look likely to lead to the break-up of the federated university, which comprises 19 institutions teaching 115,000 students in the capital.
The Guardian

Scots university to appeal for £350m
Edinburgh University will today launch an appeal for £350 million, the biggest fundraising initiative of its kind in Scotland. It hopes to reach its target by 2011 and has already secured £149 million. A total of £35 million will be earmarked for scholarships to ensure no qualified student misses out on a place at the university due to financial hardship. The other projects set to benefit include a new building for the university's Centre for Regenerative Medicine; a £40 million scheme for the library; a new teaching facility for the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies and initiatives to recruit and retain high-calibre staff.
The Financial Times

UK's first new college in 25 years opens at Durham
The first new college at a British university in 25 years opens this week to its founding student members, Durham University announced yesterday. Josephine Butler College, a purpose-built self-catering college for up to 800 undergraduates, postgraduates and staff will form a new community at Durham and is part of the university's £35 million project to improve its student accommodation. The last new college in the UK was Robinson College, Cambridge, which was officially opened in 1981.
The Guardian

Hard-up students choose to stay at home as cost of college rises
A traditional rite of teenage passage, living away from home, is being denied an increasing number of undergraduates because of the rising cost of university education. Twenty-two per cent of new undergraduates will live at home this year, up from 16 per cent in 2005, according to a survey published yesterday. The introduction of tuition fees of up to £3,000 is blamed for the rise. Figures from the 2006 NatWest Student Money Matters survey show that 19 per cent of students picked their course because it was close to home, compared with 15 per cent the year before.
The Times

University to launch own record label
Hertfordshire University could understandably be hoping that a Tubular Bells -type success comes its way. It may not be Virgin Records - not yet at least - but the university's John Lill Music Centre will take the bold step of launching the university's own record label next month. With a team of full-time staff, all professional composers and sound technologists, the recording arm of the university will offer high-quality recordings composed or performed by top professional musicians. Known as University of Hertfordshire Recordings Limited, there will be four initial album releases, followed by another six by the end of next year.
The Guardian

New planets make discovery of life in space more likely
Scientists have discovered 16 possible new planets deep in the Milky Way, which they say increases the chances of there being life elsewhere in the galaxy. Astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope believe that the discovery could constitute a new class of planets, because they hug their parent stars so closely that they complete their orbits in as little as ten hours. Stars are differentiated from planets by the nuclear reactions that take place in their core.
The Times

Scientists discover brain trigger for selfish behaviour
Scientists have found that they can make people selfish and egotistical by turning off a brain region at the flick of a switch, providing new insight into social behaviour. They set out to show that activation of the area of the brain known as the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex triggers self-control. The scientists used repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation on subjects, in which a weak magnetic field was used to temporarily disable the DLPFC.
The Daily Telegraph

"Monster" fossil found in Jurassic graveyard
Scientists have found a fossil of a "Monster" fish-like reptile in a 150 million-year-old Jurassic graveyard on an Arctic island off Norway. The Norwegian researchers discovered remains of a total of 28 Plesiosaurs and Ichthyosaurs - top marine predators when dinosaurs dominated on land - at a site on the island of Spitsbergen, about 1,300 km (800 miles) from the North Pole. "One of them was this gigantic monster, with vertebrae the size of dinner plates and teeth the size of cucumbers," said Joern Hurum, an assistant professor at the University of Oslo.
The Scotsman, The Times

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