Today's news

January 15, 2007

Parents pay £4,000 in top-up fees of their own
Parents are spending an average of £4,000 a year per child to help to keep their offspring at university. The money is spent on top-up fees, accommodation, living expenses and to help to keep down debts, a study suggests. With the cost of higher education rising to about £39,000 over three years because of the introduction of top-up fees, the pressure on families to fund their children has grown. But poorer students are less likely than better-off students to rely on family or student loans for support. Instead they are prone to racking up large debts on credit cards. The 2007 Student Experience Report, which questioned 1,600 students at 20 universities, says that three quarters of them owe money. Last year the average student debt rose by 9 per cent to £5,760.
The Times, The Guardian

Courts slam door on the £1m serial race claimant
For ten years Suresh Deman has cashed in on Britain's “rights” culture with astonishing effect. The lecturer has brought at least 40 cases to employment tribunals, usually claiming race discrimination against universities, won £194,500 in compensation, and cost the taxpayer more than £1million. But his days playing the system appear to be over. In a rare case brought by the Attorney General, Mr Deman has been declared a “vexatious litigant” and banned from bringing further tribunal claims. Under a High Court “restriction of proceedings” order, Mr Deman must now seek permission from the Employment Appeals Tribunal to lodge any future cases.
The Daily Mail, The Times Higher Education Supplement (September 8)

Scientist fears statins link to Parkinson's
Scientists are to carry out a large-scale study into whether taking cholesterol-lowering statins could increase the risk of Parkinson's disease. About 2.7 million people in England take statins such as pravastatin, atorvastatin and simvastatin, to reduce their risks of heart attacks and strokes. The drugs work by lowering levels of low-density lipoprotein, or so called "bad cholesterol". But American researchers have found that patients with low levels of LDL are more than three times more likely to have Parkinson's than those with high levels.
The Daily Telegraph, The Times, The Independent

Wax works for new 'faster' ski inventors
The days of Britain being the laughing stock of downhill skiing could be numbered, thanks to a new invention. Tests of a prototype ski with a continuous waxing system have found them to be up to 32 per cent faster than traditional models on artificial slopes and two per cent quicker on real snow. Scientists at Sheffield University are negotiating with ski manufacturers and hope to see their technology on the podium at the winter Olympics in Vancouver in 2010. Peter Styring, professor of chemical engineering at Sheffield, and a keen skier, came up with the idea when he took his daughter to a dry ski slope.
The Daily Telegraph

Student hurt as chemical brew blows up
A Russian student was being treated in hospital yesterday after a chemical brew he concocted in a Moscow University hall of residence blew up, police said. The second-year biology student decided to experiment with different chemicals in a kitchen on Saturday night. He mixed them in a saucepan, heated the potion up on the stove and suddenly there was a loud blast. "He wanted to see what would happen. What happened was an explosion," a police spokesman said. It was not clear which chemicals he had mixed. The student was taken to hospital with wounds to the face, hands, stomach and chest. His life was not in danger.
The Scotsman

From the weekend's papers:


  • Trees to be felled to make way for Edinburgh University revamp. The Scotsman


  • Jamie Oliver hits out at the Government's drive to send half of school leavers to university. The Mail On Sunday
  • Universities to offer enterprise funding. The Mail On Sunday
  • Lord Carey to help Exeter University Christian Union fight ban. The Sunday Telegraph
  • Edinburgh University is planning to introduce powers to strip honorary degree holders of their titles. The Scotland On Sunday

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