Today's news

January 9, 2007

Geldof and Brown win honours for campaign
Bob Geldof and Gordon Brown congratulated each other yesterday as they were awarded honorary doctorates. The pair were chosen for the awards from Newcastle University along with three others in recognition of the Make Poverty History campaign two years ago. Both received Doctor of Civil Law degrees from Lord Patten, chancellor of the university and the former Tory minister, at the Sage arts centre in Gateshead. Geldof praised the Chancellor and the Prime Minister for their work in tackling world poverty. "If there wasn't Brown and Blair, I can't imagine where we would have gone," he said.
The Daily Telegraph, The Guardian

Posers set a test for dons
Grouchy eccentricity used to be a prerequisite for academic life, but dons will need to don perma-smiles if they want to avoid getting caught by mystery shoppers. In an attempt to check the politeness and helpfulness of staff, universities are paying consultants to pose as students. “The sector needs to get to grips with the concept of customer service,” says Donald McLeod, the head of marketing at the University of Hertfordshire. And some institutions really need to brush up on their skills. A mystery shopper exercise at the University of Sheffield found that one telephone caller in five who asked for information received nothing.
The Times, The Times Higher Education Supplement (Jan 5)

Figures show drop in overseas undergraduates
The number of overseas students starting first degrees at UK universities has fallen for the second year running, official figures reveal today. Data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency confirms fears expressed by university heads that the stream of fee-paying overseas students on which they depend financially is being choked off by a combination of hardline government visa policies and intensifying competition from North America, Australia and emerging rivals like Singapore. Overseas postgraduate student numbers held steady in 2005-06 after four years of vigorous growth, but there was a 6 per cent fall in undergraduate enrolments.
The Guardian

Harvard 'ready to name first lady'
It is a delicious irony unlikely to be lost on Larry Summers, who resigned as President of Harvard last year after suggesting that women were innately inferior to men when it came to maths and science. His replacement may be female — and just to rub it in, a female scientist. America’s oldest university is abuzz with rumour that it is about to name the first woman president in its 317-year history. If so, the move would not only be a poke in the eye for Dr Summers, but would also add to the growing list of female firsts in America this year. Nancy Pelosi was elected the first female Speaker of the House last week, while Hillary Clinton is widely expected to announce her intention to become the first female president of the United States.
The Times, The Independent

£8m medical research funds create posts
New medical research posts have been created at Edinburgh University after a multi-million-pound funding boost for studies into cures for serious diseases. Almost £8 million has been released by the Translational Medicine Research Collaboration to support new projects in Scotland. Scientists will study a range of therapeutic areas including cardiovascular and metabolic disease, the central nervous system, oncology, inflammation, and women's health. Around 40 new jobs have been created in Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Dundee and Glasgow universities as a result. And 50 jobs are projected for the core laboratory in Dundee. TMRC brings together the four universities, Wyeth Pharmaceutical Co, Scottish Enterprise and local health boards.
The Scotsman

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