Today's news

December 7, 2006

University grants to include sum for work with business
For the first time the Government's block grants for university research will include a sum related to the amount of work an institution does with business. The Higher Education Funding Council for England is to allocate £60 million of research grants in this way next year. According to the pre-Budget report, the £60 million is a step toward a new system of allocating funds that "will provide greater rewards for user-focused research in order to optimise the economic benefits of research". The new system will eventually replace the research assessment exercise, which many universities dislike because it places a heavy administrative burden on staff.
The Financial Times

Earn-to-learn boost for part-time studies
Young adults deterred from going to university because they fear huge student debts are to be offered a new earn-to-learn scheme in which they may work for 50 per cent of the time and study for the other 50 per cent. The Chancellor unveiled earn to learn as part of the Government's strategy to boost the number of 18 to 30-year-olds with a higher education qualification from around 42 per cent today to 50 per cent by 2010. "To meet the skills needs of the future we must encourage young people who too often lose out to stay on, study for qualifications and go to university and college.”
The Guardian

Archbishop attacks ban on Christian students
The Archbishop of Canterbury has condemned the suppression of Christian unions in some universities, arguing that trying to ban them because of their traditional views on homosexuality was like trying to ban the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. Dr Rowan Williams, who spoke out this week over the debate on Trident, said that a refusal to recognise Christian unions by some student unions because of their stance on gay sex risked being viewed as “fear of open argument”. Writing in The Times Higher Education Supplement , he said that no one was suggesting banning CND from making moral judgments about people involved in the nuclear industry.
The Times, The Times Higher Education Supplement (Dec 8)

Tuition fees to be cut for volunteers
University students would be entitled to a reduction in tuition fees in return for doing voluntary work, under proposals announced by the Chancellor. The idea, which borrows from a US scheme whereby students do voluntary community work in return for an allowance, was welcomed by the volunteering charity CSV, which nevertheless expressed concern at the implications of students expecting something in return for volunteering. “The principal ethos is a gift-relationship,” a spokesman said. “The rewards are not financial. They are seeing a child’s reading age improve through tutoring in a school or enabling a person with disabilities to attend lectures at university.”
The Times

University investment 'will create jobs'
Extra public investment in Scotland's universities will do more to grow the country's economy than cuts in income tax or business rates, a leading principal will say today. The comments by Sir Muir Russell, the vice-chancellor of Glasgow University, will coincide with the publication of research which shows that spending £500 million in higher education would generate an extra £312.5 million for the economy and create 3,400 more jobs. By comparison, the research says a 1p cut in business rates will only generate an extra £55 million and create 635 new jobs.
The Scotsman

Student dummies not so dumb
The University of Portsmouth has opened a £4.5 million facility, known as the ExPERT Centre, which provides students with two revolutionary medical mannequins. “They breathe, drool, blink, bleed and even react to drugs injected into their bodies,” Lesley Reynolds, the centre’s director, said. The mannequins cost up to £135,000 each. The facility will be used by biomedical science students and those in allied professions, including the emergency services.
The Times

Is this the water mark of life on Mars?
Dramatic new pictures suggest Mars has flowing liquid water on its surface, increasing the possibility of current life on the planet. Before-and-after images of gullies on the planet taken by Nasa's Mars Global Surveyor show liquid has flowed on the planet in the past five years. Scientists have previously pointed to features that suggest flowing water on Mars billions of years ago and have collected images of ice at the Martian north pole. The discovery is unexpected because the planet's temperatures and atmospheric pressure are too low to allow water to exist in liquid form for long.
The Daily Telegraph, Nature, The Independent, New Scientist

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