Today's news

November 27, 2006

Oxford 'risks becoming a government quango'
Oxford university will be turned into a "government quango" under plans to transform the way the 900-year-old institution is run, a leading academic said yesterday. Proposals to place more power in the hands of outside businessmen would lead to an increase in bureaucracy and targets, which has already damaged morale in the civil service and the National Health Service, said Vernon Bogdanor, Professor of Government at Brasenose college, Oxford. Academics are preparing to vote tomorrow on reforms drawn up by Dr John Hood, Oxford's vice-chancellor, to reshape the ruling council.
The Daily Telegraph

Cambridge builds a fund lead
For the first time in its 800-year history, Cambridge University is to appoint a City financier to lead a new team of in-house investment professionals to manage its endowment fund - a move not seen before by a British university. Today it will announce that Nick Cavalla, currently chief investment officer of Man Global Strategies, will take on the newly created role of chief investment officer of Cambridge's £1.2 billion fund in April. The long-awaited appointment comes three years after Alison Richard, vice-chancellor of the university, recruited in 2003 from Yale, launched an initiative to revolutionise the university's funding and put it on the same footing as its rivals in the US.
The Financial Times

Dawkins campaigns to keep God out of classroom
The University of Oxford geneticist and campaigning atheist Richard Dawkins has established a foundation to keep God out of the classroom and prevent "pseudo science" taking over in schools, it emerged today. The new Richard Dawkins Foundation for Science and Reason will subsidise books, pamphlets and DVDs for teachers to fight what the professor describes as the "educational scandal" that has seen the rise of "irrational ideas". His foundation will also conduct research into what makes some people more susceptible to religious ideas than others and whether these people are particularly vulnerable.
The Guardian

Secrets of dyslexia unlocked
A genetic breakthrough will allow dyslexia to be diagnosed in unborn babies, it was revealed yesterday. Scientists from Edinburgh University have helped unravel the gene sequence that determines a person's ability to work with letters and numbers. Their findings - the result of a 20-year study - mean those likely to suffer from extreme forms of dyslexia can be identified before they are born and given extra care to help deal with the condition. Dr Timothy Bates, one of the co-authors of the study, said the research had unlocked the biological secrets of dyslexia.
The Scotsman

Stem-cell transplants from women raise cancer risk
People who receive stem-cell transplants for diseases such as leukaemia appear to face a higher risk of developing secondary cancers, especially if the cells come from a female donor, according to a preliminary study. The scientists behind the new report caution that future stem cell treatments for ailments such as spinal cord injury and heart failure might also carry a cancer risk. However, experts point out that the study is far from conclusive and more work needs to be done to confirm a link between stem-cell transplants and tumours.
New Scientist

From the weekend's papers:

Saturday

Sunday

  • University courses with a focus on green issues provide a solid grounding in the subject. The Sunday Times
  • King's College, Cambridge, is selling off its treasures. The Sunday Times

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