Today's news

November 15, 2006

Dons tell of pressure on Oxford to reform
Oxford came one step closer to handing control of its executive to outsiders yesterday after it emerged that the university was under serious government pressure to reform. In the first time that England’s universities could lose control over their independent decision-making, dons disclosed that the Higher Education Funding Council for England had strongly urged them to change the way Oxford is run. In a letter to Alan Ryan, the warden of New College, Oxford, the council said that it was an “important principle” that the governing body of any pre-1992 university had a majority of external or independent members on its board.
The Times, The Guardian, The Financial Times, The Daily Telegraph

Universities to focus on private training
Universities are to launch a big push to seize market share from private companies specialising in professional education and the training of workers, according to a strategy document published today by the Higher Education Funding Council for England. The plan outlines the ambitions of the higher education sector to play a much bigger role in the provision of advanced level skills needed by employers and to fall in line with the government desire for universities to help increase national productivity. Higher education institutions will need to develop radically new strategies for educating people already in the workforce, it warns, including sending academics into businesses to conduct workplace training.
The Financial Times

Renowned arts college may be forced to leave its 14th-century home
Dartington College of Arts is in talks with University College Falmouth about relocating from Devon to Cornwall, creating a new merged institution. While it remains the smallest specialist arts college in Britain, Dartington has grown in recent years and enjoys an international profile. Alumni and former teachers include Ravi Shankar, Benjamin Britten and John Cage. Daniel Cooke, president of Dartington's student union, said news of the move had come as a surprise: "Last week was a reading week, and then we came back to this. It was very upsetting - we had a difficult, angry meeting."
The Guardian

Visa red tape forcing students elsewhere, report warns
Lengthy and costly visa applications would force more than a third of international students to study elsewhere, a new report on further education colleges in the UK reveals. In its latest report, the UK Council for International Education, called on the Home Office and UKvisas, the government unit responsible for issuing visas, to investigate several problems affecting FE international students wanting to study in the UK.
The Guardian

Students to press universities on drugs for the poor world
A coalition of university students yesterday joined forces with senior medical and legal figures in a campaign to press universities to ensure that drugs they help develop are made available at affordable prices in the developing world. Senior public health advocates, practitioners and academic researchers helped launch the "Philadelphia consensus statement" calling for any university technology-transfer licences to include conditions ensuring low-cost access to health-related innovations in the developing world.
The Financial Times

Protest targets university's arms trade shares
Campaigners have hit out at Heriot-Watt University for owning shares in the arms trade. Researchers at the Campaign Against Arms Trade asked all of the UK's universities for details of investments in several top arms companies, including BAE Systems, Rolls Royce and the Smiths Group, which the group claims have been involved in the supply of weapons to oppressive regimes. CAAT today said Heriot-Watt University had confirmed that it held shares in BAE Systems worth £559.77 as of March this year.
The Scotsman

Dozens of hostages freed as police are arrested after abductions
Most of the dozens of hostages seized yesterday in an armed raid in Baghdad were freed after the Iraqi Government ordered the arrest of five police commanders. Police said that two people were still being held captive by gunmen. Iraq's interior minister held the police chiefs for questioning after as many as 60 scientists and staff were kidnapped in daylight from the offices of the higher education ministry in Baghdad by gunmen in police uniforms. The men were taken when a convoy of 20 camouflaged pick-up trucks with tinted windows surrounded the offices in the religiously mixed Karrada district at around 9.30am local time.
The Daily Telegraph

Why chocolate can be good for the heart
A wayward band of chocoholics has accidentally proved to medical science what aficionados must have always hoped - that chocolate can be good for you. Researchers in the United States found that human guinea pigs who broke the rules of a study on blood clots by eating dark chocolate increased their protection against heart attacks. Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore enrolled 1,200 people across the US for an 18-month study on the impact of aspirin on blood platelets, the sticky cells that generate clots.
The Independent, The Guardian

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