Today's news

December 14, 2006

V-cs outline three-year funding demands
Vice-chancellors are calling for university funding levels to be maintained in order to plug the funding gap in teaching and infrastructure, a submission to the 2007 government spending review says. In its submission, Universities UK, will be asking for a total of £1.3 billion per year during the three-year spending review for 2008-11. Diana Warwick, the chief executive of UUK, said: "At the heart of our argument is our assertion that higher education provides a huge range of services and outputs for society and the economy and therefore deserves continued stable public investment. Our submission underlines the central role universities are playing in addressing the main long-term economic challenges for the country, identified by the Treasury."
The Guardian

Kant take my iTunes off you
A Glasgow University lecturer's podcast on the opaque German philosopher Immanuel Kant has been the surprise hit among educational downloads this term. Susan Stuart is as surprised as anyone that her lecture on Kant's epistemology leap to the top of the iTunes education chart. "I don't understand it. It's bizarre as far as I'm concerned," she told the Times Higher Education Supplement today. Her podcast was number one last month in the iTunes higher education list, beating academics at Berkeley, Harvard and Edinburgh. She has since slipped from the top spot, but her introduction to the author of the Critique of Pure Reason remains in the top three.
The Guardian, The Times Higher Education Supplement (Dec 15)

University students face language requirement
University College London has decided that a GCSE in a modern foreign language will be compulsory for admission to all its courses from 2012, in a move that it hopes will stop schools abandoning the discipline. The plan, which is being closely watched by other universities, comes after GCSE entries showed a 14.7 per cent drop in exam-takers following a government decision to make language study optional for 14 to 16-year-olds. The decision comes as an urgent review of the languages strategy is published by Lord Dearing today.
The Guardian

Drive to boost medical research
Tony Blair yesterday unveiled plans to boost the competitiveness of London and the South East of England as a global centre of excellence of medical research. The initiative, mirroring similar efforts in Boston and Shanghai, will include the creation of special bursaries and fellowships to attract top scientists, as well as fresh investment in UK education. The Government said that extra funding would also be made available for specialist infrastructure and research projects in the South East, including Oxford and Cambridge. Advice will be offered to entrepreneurs, and “biomedical incubator parks” may be established to give business people access to subsidised laboratory and office space.
The Times

Lecturers launch alternative FE manifesto
Lecturers have accused the Government of denying thousands of 14 and 15-year-olds a proper education by academically "pigeonholing" them at too early an age. Labour's "narrow vocationalism" will discourage socially disadvantaged youngsters from going to university, they say. The lecturers' attack comes in a "manifesto" published today by the University and College Union, which offers an alternative to the Government's vision for further education. "Students are being pigeonholed vocationally or academically at an extremely early age," it says.
The Guardian

Electronic pets for the elderly 'will combat loneliness'
The elderly and those living alone may soon find solace in an "electronic pet" capable of holding conversations and telling jokes, scientists have suggested. The Companion – which has been dubbed "the older person’s Tamagotchi" after the popular Japanese toy – will understand what it has been told, and will respond with appropriate information or questions. British scientists working on the project hope that it will provide companionship for the millions of older people who live alone, as well as reminding them to take medicine and conducting basic health checks.
The Times

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