Today's news

January 18, 2007

University heads warn of £10,000-a-year tuition fees
Tuition fees for undergraduates in England will have to rise to £6,000 a year or more to cover teaching costs, according to a Guardian survey of university vice-chancellors and senior staff. It reveals growing unease about the funding system that came into force last autumn, with suggestions that some science courses could cost students up to £10,000 a year when the current structure is reviewed. Heads of more than 40 of the country's 100 universities responded to the survey, with most warning that fees would or could rise. Many also thought the Treasury would make student loans more expensive to repay, in part because the cost to the government of writing-off unpaid debts has risen to nearly £1 billion a year.
The Guardian

Universities call for clarity over employer-backed degrees
The education secretary's annual instructions to the body that funds universities in England seems to have thrown up more questions than answers about how he intends institutions to work more closely with business and industry. Academics remain confused about the Government's plans for "employer demand-led funding", which Alan Johnson expects to generate an extra 15,000 student places between 2008 and 2011. And the Confederation of British Industry - normally vociferous about the failings of the education system - this week declined to comment, saying it was a matter for universities.
The Guardian

Hawking: Doomsday Clock closer to midnight
The world has nudged closer to apocalypse as a result of climate change and nuclear proliferation, Stephen Hawking and other prominent scientists warned today as the hand of a symbolic Doomsday Clock moved two minutes closer to midnight. The clock, devised at the dawn of the nuclear age, made official what many now feel in their bones - that the world has edged closer to disaster. “We foresee great peril if governments and societies do not take action now,” said Professor Hawking. It was the fourth time since the end of the Cold War that the clock has ticked forward, this time from 11:53 to 11:55, amid fears over what the scientists are describing as “a second nuclear age”, prompted largely by failure to curb the atomic ambitions of Iran and North Korea.
The Daily Telegraph, The Times, New Scientist

Supercampus doubts after university threat to quit
The future of an education "supercampus" was thrown into doubt last night when a university threatened to pull out of the project because of rising losses. Glasgow University said it was losing £800,000 a year from its involvement in the Crichton campus in Dumfries. The site was opened in 2000 and also houses students from the University of Paisley and Bell College. Dumfries and Galloway College is due to relocate there next year. In a letter to staff last night, Sir Muir Russell, the principal of Glasgow University, said the Scottish Funding Council's refusal to pay for more of its students to attend the campus had forced the institution to "regretfully" consider pulling out.
The Scotsman

Expert backs calls for more stillbirth study
One of Scotland's leading childbirth experts today backed calls for more research into what causes overdue babies to die in the womb. Andrew Calder, of Edinburgh University, heads the research centre set up by Gordon Brown and his wife Sarah following the death of their baby daughter, Jennifer, in 2002. He said more needed to be done to understand the "unexplained" phenomenon that leaves parents with no idea of why their child has died. Professor Calder has conducted extensive research into childbirth problems but said some cases continued to leave experts baffled.
The Scotsman

Snowdon will be snow-free in 13 years, scientists warn
Those who originally named the peak spoke as they probably found it, calling it "Snow Dun", from the Saxon for "snow hill". But Snowdon may lose its snow cover within 13 years as a result of climate change, Welsh scientists say. Snow has been disappearing for some time from the peak, the highest in Britain south of the Highlands, but the Countryside Council for Wales disclosed that this winter's accumulation is the lowest since records began 14 years ago. With only a couple of snowfalls this winter, the total depths measured are way down on previous years and, if the trend continues, any kind of the cover could disappear by 2020.
The Independent

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