Today's news

November 3, 2006

Sultan's £2m Oxford gift raises fear of favouritism
Fears have been raised that Oxford dons will be pressured into accepting less academic students, after the university accepted a £2 million gift in a deal with the defence minister of Saudi Arabia. Oxford has promised to help “expedite the application process” of ten scholarship students from the Prince Sultan University over 25 years, and identify suitable colleges for them. The arrangement has infuriated senior academics who are concerned that it will blur fundraising and academic objectives at the university.
The Times, The Times Higher Education Supplement (Nov 2)

University staff urged to assist bullying survey
A Nottingham Trent academic is launching a study to help discover the extent to which university staff are being harassed, attacked and even stalked by disgruntled students. Deborah Lee, a sociologist at the university, is urging all university staff to take part in the online survey, which will be available in the new year, to shed light on the issue. The research follows an earlier pilot study carried out by Dr Lee that focused solely on lecturers. In her book, University Students Behaving Badly, 22 academics from UK universities, aged between 25 and 65, revealed their experiences of being physically attacked, stalked, verbally abused, bullied, sexually harassed or maliciously accused of poor teaching by students.
The Guardian, The Times Higher Education Supplement (Nov 2)

Blair speaks up for scientists in attempt to end public distrust
Four years ago, Tony Blair became the first prime minister to address the Royal Society, Britain's senior scientific body. He promised to make the country "one of the best places in the world to do science". Today, when he returns to this theme in a speech in Oxford, he can claim with some justification to have delivered. Science budgets have more than doubled since 1997. Britain is home to three of the world's top 10 universities for scientific research. With just one per cent of the world's population, Britain produces nine per cent of all scientific papers and receives 12 per cent of citations.
The Financial Times, The Guardian, New Scientist

Berners-Lee to head web research project
The influence the internet has on the way we socialise and live our lives is to become the focus of a new field of study under the leadership of the inventor of the world wide web, Tim Berners-Lee. The joint research programme in web science is being launched by the University of Southampton and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the US. The new research area will look not only at computer science, but will also cover emerging research into social networks and how people behave while using the internet. Professor Berners-Lee, a professor at both Southampton and MIT, who invented the world wide web's basic software and was knighted in 2004, said: "The web isn't about what you can do with computers."
The Financial Times, The Guardian

University of Edinburgh ranks high in American poll
A major increase in applications from overseas students is expected by Edinburgh University, after it was recognised as one of the world's best by a leading US publication. Edinburgh was ranked 47th in the Newsweek poll, which put Harvard in the top spot, Cambridge sixth and Oxford eighth. Liz Lister, Edinburgh University's director of student recruitment and admissions, said: "We certainly think this will attract more international students." The university already attracts 5,000 overseas students - almost a quarter of its total - from 130 countries.
The Scotsman

Bus bars Muslim who would not lift her veil
A Muslim student has been prevented from getting on a bus because she would not remove her veil. The 22-year-old woman, who does not want to be identified, said yesterday that other passengers laughed when the driver refused to let her board. He said he took the action because without her lifting her veil he could not check her features against those on her bus pass. The student, who is studying at Manchester University, had been trying to board a No 59 bus in Oldham, Greater Manchester. She said the driver initially asked to see her pass. Having glanced at it, he then asked her to lift her veil so he could see her face.
The Daily Telegraph

No more fish to eat in 40 years
Fish stocks are declining so rapidly that scientists have predicted that they will disappear by the middle of the century unless radical measures are taken to protect them. A study of more than 100 fishing regions, published in the journal Science, suggests that if current trends are maintained every seafood species will have collapsed below commercially viable levels by 2048. Its authors also found, however, that fish stocks and diversity recover quickly when marine ecosystems are managed to prevent overfishing.
The Times, The Scotsman, The Independent

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