Today's news

October 23, 2006

University chiefs voice concern over European MIT plans
Vice-chancellors have warned that plans for a European rival to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology could simply be a duplication of existing partnerships between universities and industry. José Manuel Barroso, the president of the European commission, is spearheading plans to create a "European Institute of Technology". Such a body would, Mr Barroso argued, "act as a pole of attraction for the very best minds, ideas and companies from around the world". The institute is one of the commission's main instruments for enabling the EU to close the spending gap between Europe and the US, Japan - and, increasingly, China and India - on research and development and reach a target of 3 per cent of GDP by the end of this decade.
The Guardian, The Times Higher Education Supplement (Oct 20)

Deprived 'should get university places with low grades'
Universities should drop entry requirements by up to two A level grades for students from “disadvantaged” backgrounds in order to widen participation, according to a government-commissioned study. Admissions tutors should lower the bar for pupils in care, those attending poorly-performing schools, those who suffer from long-term disability or sickness and those who have to look after sick relatives, it said. The tutors should also collaborate with each other to ensure that more deprived children enter the top universities. Academics at Leeds University found that while most universities had a programme to encourage more applications from working-class backgrounds, systems varied and only a few hundred were recruited annually by this route.
The Times, The Times Higher Education Supplement (Oct 20)

UK universities 'should recruit top scientists'
Britain's universities should follow football's example by bringing the cream of the world's scientific talent to the UK, Trade and Industry Secretary Alistair Darling is set to say today. Mr Darling was unveiling a new government-backed scholarship scheme designed to attract the Eric Cantonas and Dennis Bergkamps of the scientific world to do postgraduate research in Britain. It is hoped that the Royal Society International Fellowship scheme will become a globally-recognised "brand" to rank alongside Oxford University's Rhodes scholarships and Germany's Humboldt Foundation fellowships. The Government already funds scientific fellowships to the tune of £100 million a year. Now the brightest researchers from overseas will become Royal Society international fellows.
The Scotsman

City 'must look to India and China'
City companies are underestimating the strength of India and China as business partners, a report by the City of London Corporation (CLC) says today. The two countries are also an untapped source of highly trained graduates and, as the Indian IT sector expands rapidly, British businesses could do well to use their expertise. Earlier this year, the chancellor, Gordon Brown, set up a taskforce to develop and promote London as a financial centre. Although the move was welcomed by the CLC, the report stressed a need to take further action to develop better cultural understanding and communication with these countries.
The Guardian

Loss of skills pushes up pay
Skills shortages are driving pay higher for workers in Britain's engineering industry, with rates rising by 8.6 per cent, according to Incomes Data Services, an employment information and research company. "In engineering we have found a significant movement in pay levels, especially for the most skilled categories of the workforce. This is against a backdrop of continued job cuts in the sector with vital skills being lost," IDS said in a report published today.
The Guardian

Researchers map out tranquillity
There is more tranquillity in Cumbria than in Cornwall, but less in the West Midlands than in the Home Counties. Today, the Campaign to Protect Rural England is publishing a colourful new map which gives a general idea of where to find tranquillity. Large parts of the north are shaded in bright green, denoting tranquillity; London is blood-red, meaning there is no escape from noise, while other areas are a patchwork of red, green and yellow. The map was compiled by researchers at Newcastle and Northumberland universities, who interviewed 1,300 users and visitors to the countryside.
The Independent, Daily Telegraph, The Times, The Guardian

From the weekend's papers:


  • Half of Glasgow University campus is to be sold. The Scotsman
  • Rowett food research centre is planning to merge with Aberdeen University. The Scotsman


  • University officials are to launch a "counter-terrorism" unit to tackle campus extremism. The Sunday Telegraph
  • Child autism linked to hours spent watching TV, claims study. The Sunday Times
  • Irish university students drink far more than their international counterparts, a study of 21 countries has found. The Sunday Times

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