Today's news

March 8, 2007

Academic ‘hounded over immigration claim’
An Oxford University professor at the centre of a debate on academic freedom said last night that he was being hounded because he had dared to challenge the Establishment’s views on immigration. David Coleman, a co-founder of the think-tank MigrationWatch, has faced calls to be sacked from his job as professor of demography after being targeted by students opposed to his questioning of the benefits of large-scale immigration. The Oxford Student Association for Refugees, part of a group that receives substantial funding from the Government and the National Lottery, said that the academic is bringing the university into disrepute.
The Times, The Daily Telegraph

Lecturers await leadership result
The ballot to find a new leader for Britain's lecturers closed yesterday and the result is expected by lunchtime on Friday. An often bitter contest for the general secretary's job in the University and College Union has exposed the strains within the newly merged union and only a decisive result can restore harmony. Sally Hunt, the former head of the Association of University teachers, which represented staff in the old universities, has campaigned against senior Natfhe official Roger Kline. A third contender, who has been seen as an outsider, is lecturer Peter Jones, from Deeside College.
The Guardian

Overseas students spared rise in visa fees
Overseas students and tourists will be spared the full brunt of visa fee increases designed to raise money to pay for a crackdown on illegal immigrants, the Government announced yesterday. People coming to live or work in the UK will bear most of the additional cost of new detention centres, extra enforcement officers and more intelligence-gathering, the Home Office said. Liam Bryne, the Immigration Minister, said it was only fair that migrants who get the most financial benefit from coming to Britain should pay more. The cost of work permits will increase from £85 to £200, while that of student visas will rise by £14 to £99. The visitor visa fee will increase from £50 to £63.
The Financial Times, The Guardian

Student checks 'are social engineering'
The university admissions service faces a row over social engineering tomorrow as it meets to decide if tutors should be told about the educational background of parents. Sixth formers will have to declare on their application forms whether one or both parents went to university as part of the Government's campaign to widen participation. The information was requested for recording purposes by the Higher Education Statistics Agency but may now be used as part of the admissions process to help tutors decide between candidates.
The Daily Telegraph

Students marked on writing in Wikipedia
Wikipedia - banned by some academics as a source for student essays - has been made compulsory reading (and writing) for a new course at the University of East Anglia. Students are assessed on editing and writing articles on Middle East politics for the online encyclopaedia, which is open to contributions from anyone. Nicola Pratt, a lecturer in international relations, said she used to be "one of the disgruntled crown of academics who berate students for using Wikipedia in their essays" but is now convinced it can be a great opportunity for students to see at first hand how knowledge is produced.
The Guardian

Student group given £428,000 from Lottery 'good causes' fund
The group that has called for David Coleman's removal is the Oxford branch of Star - Student Action for Refugees. The parent body is partly funded by the taxpayer with a grant of more than £150,000 over three years through the Department for Education's national voluntary youth organisation programme. It was also given a grant of £428,000 last year from the Big Lottery Fund, which distributes cash to good causes.
The Daily Telegraph

£2.25m life sciences project to create 200 jobs
A drive to establish Aberdeen as a key centre for life sciences in Scotland was launched yesterday with a £2.25 million development that will bring 200 jobs to the city. A specialist centre dedicated to small and embryonic companies is to be built on the city's Foresterhill hospital complex site, near Aberdeen University's Institute of Medical Sciences, allowing the city to rival Edinburgh and Dundee in life sciences. The Life Science Innovation centre, which is being backed by the university, Scottish Enterprise Grampian and Aberdeen City Council, will allow existing fledgling firms to expand as well as attracting companies to the area.
The Scotsman

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