Today's news

January 31, 2007

Report rebukes lecturers' union over pay dispute
Leaders of the Association of University Teachers unexpectedly settled last year's bitter lecturers' pay dispute in a desperate bid to be seen as the stronger partner in the newly merged higher education union, new research has suggested. In a paper on the dispute, Bob Carter, an academic from the University of Leicester, claims that top officials in the AUT strove to exclude Natfhe officials from discussions about union tactics and made misjudgements in order to gain “organisational advantage in the post-merger union”.
The Guardian, The Times Higher Education Supplement (February 2)

Universities warned not to outsource services
Lecturers are urging vice-chancellors to rule out private-sector involvement in key university functions, such as IT and English lessons for international students. In a letter sent today to Universities UK, Sally Hunt the joint general secretary of the University and College Union, said lecturers were "particularly disturbed" about private companies such as Study Group International, Kaplan and Into University Partnerships setting up on UK campuses.
The Guardian, The Times Higher Education Supplement (February 2)

Students jailed over initiation beating
Two fraternity members at a Florida university have been jailed for two years by a judge who said that she wanted to send out a message that violent student initiation rites would not be tolerated. Prosecutions are rare as victims rarely complain and campus authorities traditionally tolerate hazing - the ritual abuse or humiliation of prospective members - except when initiates die, typically of an alcohol overdose. However, a new law introduced in 2005 made it a felony to participate in hazing that resulted in serious bodily injury and prohibits evidence of willing participation being used as a legal defence.
The Daily Telegraph

Shunning university 'damages men's job prospects'
Men face a struggle for good jobs in future as growing numbers of teenage boys shun university, government officials warned today. Ministers are becoming increasingly concerned at the widening gender gap in higher education, after 22,500 more young women than men won university places last year. Higher education officials warned that men could find themselves marginalised in the jobs market as employers increasingly look to hire staff with degrees.
The Guardian

University funding crisis builds pressure for new tuition fees
Higher education in Scotland faces a "bleak" future unless politicians come up with new funding proposals in the run-up to the Holyrood election, the principal of one of the country's leading universities has warned. Brian Lang, the vice-chancellor of St Andrews University, said a graduate tax or increased contributions by students were among the measures that should be under consideration by Scotland's political parties.
The Scotsman

Timber shrine reveals Stonehenge secret
New excavations near Stonehenge could finally explain its reason for existence: as one half of a much larger temple built to celebrate the living and the dead. A dig less than two miles away has revealed the largest neolithic village in Britain. The similar dates and designs of the sites have convinced archaeologists that they were elements of a single religious complex. Stonehenge was designed as a permanent monument to the dead and constructed of rock to symbolise their enduring presence, the research suggests.
The Times, The Daily Telegraph, The Independent, New Scientist

'Bumble bee paradox' solved
The enduring puzzle of why bees and other insects are so good at flying has been solved, paving the way for a new generation of robot insects measuring just a few inches to be built. Flying insects have plagued the worlds of science and engineering ever since the first calculation of bumble-bee aeronautics was attempted at Gottingen University in the 1930s. Conventional aerodynamics seemed to suggest that the insect should not generate enough lift to fly. The bees stayed resolutely airborne and the sums caused consternation.
The Daily Telegraph

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