Today's news

November 13, 2006

Oxford dons ready for final battle
The final phase in the battle over reforms for the University of Oxford begins tomorrow when John Hood, the Vice-Chancellor, calls on dons to approve changes to a “white paper” detailing plans to hand strategic control to outsiders. After 13 years of arguing over various models to replace a 900-year-old tradition of self-governance, there is a certain weariness among the dons at Britain’s oldest university. Like all feuds, the plotting behind the scenes has been thick. But, after the most striking alternatives had been ruled out, Dr Hood’s opponents decided to push for an all-or-nothing vote in a high-risk attempt to defeat the plans.
The Times, The Financial Times, The Guardian

US visa changes help lure students
Efforts by the US government to make the student visa process more efficient and transparent appear to have stemmed the fall in international student enrolment. According to figures released today, the number of foreign students enrolled at US colleges and universities stabilised this year after two years of decline. Those falls - which marked the first time international student enrolment had dropped since the 1970s - crystallised industry fears that a decline in the number of international students could hurt US competitiveness. The decline had been blamed partly on visa restrictions introduced after the September 11 terrorist attacks on the US.
The Financial Times

University lifts the lid on arts treasure trove
Thousands of priceless paintings, ancient artefacts and literary archives belonging to the nation that have for years been tucked away in cramped vaults, or stacked up in stairways and corridors, are to go on display for the first time. The collection, which belongs to University College London, includes etchings and drawings by Rembrandt and Albrecht Durer, paintings by Stanley Spencer and Augustus John, a George Orwell archive and one of the world’s greatest collections of Egyptian and Sudanese archaeology. The collection is to be housed in a £ million eight-storey museum due to open in 2010 in Bloomsbury, Central London. The public will be able to view it free - and watch academics working on items in glass-panelled teaching rooms.
The Times

Comeback for Rag Week at Edinburgh university
The infamous Rag Week is making a long-awaited return to Edinburgh University's annual calendar this month. The charity event was first staged by the university's Student Association in 1867 and went on to be copied by universities around the country. However, for more than 20 years Rag Week in the Scottish capital has been run by the Edinburgh Students Charities Appeal. But this year's SA committee decided to get involved again and is co-hosting a Charities Week with the ESCA this week. Natasha Shotton, deputy president for societies and events, said: "We thought it was a good idea to start it again. Lots of students want to raise money for charity and have a social conscience so they know they want to do something."
The Scotsman

'Racial' DNA profiling likened to Nazi thinking
One of Britain's leading geneticists has attacked the use of DNA to carry out "racial profiling", comparing it with the warped thinking that saw the Nazis send people to the gas chamber. Bryan Sykes, a professor of human genetics at Oxford University, insisted that the analysis, which is offered by private firms, was based on an "inaccurate way of thinking about genetics". He warned that racial prejudice and the idea of racial superiority were still "a dangerous human pre-occupation" that might be fuelled by racial profiling. A Channel 4 programme, provocatively entitled 100 per cent English , will tonight detail one such test that was carried out on Carol Thatcher, the daughter of former prime minister, Baroness Thatcher.
The Scotsman

No love lost with Getty Museum as Italy cries foul over Aphrodite
Frustrated by the refusal of the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles to return prized antiquities allegedly looted from their homeland, Italy is threatening to break cultural ties with the museum if talks over the disputed artefacts are not resumed. Italy has been fighting for more than a year for the return of several dozen pieces from the Getty, including a limestone statue of Aphrodite from the fifth century BC. Successes have been scored with other American museums, such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, which have both surrendered some of their finest artefacts after the legality of their acquisitions was questioned.
The Times

From the weekend's papers:


  • Scots may get selective science academies. The Daily Telegraph


  • Passion in the cloisters as dons battle for the future of Oxford. The Sunday Telegraph
  • Islamic extremists have infiltrated four UK universities. The Sunday Times
  • British students could lose out in Oxford reforms. The Sunday Times

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