Today's news

February 2, 2007

Minister urges universities to woo part-time students
The Government has appealed to universities to make a culture shift and embrace more courses led and funded by employers. Changes to the traditional academic year, the kind of students enrolled, the curriculum and where courses are taught would all have to be considered, Higher Education Minister Bill Rammell told a Guardian conference of higher education leaders in London yesterday. Working people who study part time "from the factory floor, open-plan offices and the front seat of white vans", rather than the traditional 18 to 21-age-group going to "leafy campuses", should be the engine for continuing expansion, said Mr Rammell.
The Guardian

University censured over ban on same-sex ceremonies
Canterbury Christ Church University has been accused of discriminating against same-sex couples by refusing to allow civil partnership ceremonies to take place in its grounds. The University and College Union has criticised the vice-chancellor of the university, Michael Wright, for his policy that bans civil partnership ceremonies. The UCU said lecturers and students at the university were outraged by the policy and described it as a "simple act of discrimination" that violated the university's equal opportunities policy.
The Guardian

University to get share of £77m research cash
Edinburgh University will share in a massive £77 million investment in research in biology and life sciences announced yesterday. Six Scottish universities are to pool their research excellence in a new Scottish Universities Life Sciences Alliance. It will mean 18 fresh research jobs and 24 support posts at the Universities of Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Dundee, Glasgow, St Andrews and Strathclyde. First Minister Jack McConnell said the alliance would transform Scottish research in the field.
The Scotsman

Eight die as fighting escalates
The death toll rose in worsening factional fighting in the Gaza Strip today. Fatah forces stormed the Islamic University, stronghold of rival Hamas, and fighters loyal to the ruling Islamist party destroyed a Fatah radio station. At least eight people died and dozens were wounded as the two factions clashed in the near-deserted streets after the breakdown of a tentative ceasefire that lasted barely three days. The fighting has involved a variety of security forces linked to the Fatah party of Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian Authority president, and members of the Hamas Government’s Executive Force, largely made up of members of Hamas’s formerly underground military wing.
The Financial Times

Oxford back in court over animal lab
An animal rights campaigner facing jail over his failure to produce an e-mail list of subscribers told the High Court today that it had been moved to the US, outside his control. Robert Cogswell and fellow Speak co-founder Mel Broughton are fighting a bid by Oxford University to jail them for their alleged contempt of an order made by Mr Justice Gibbs in October directing that they disclose an electronic copy of the e-mail address list in full within two days.
The Guardian, The Times

Roman descendants found in China?
Residents of a remote Chinese village are hoping that DNA tests will prove one of history's most unlikely legends - that they are descended from Roman legionaries. Scientists have taken blood samples from 93 people living in and around Liqian, a settlement in north-western China on the fringes of the Gobi desert, more than 200 miles from the nearest city. They are seeking an explanation for the unusual number of local people with western characteristics - green eyes, big noses, and even blonde hair - mixed with traditional Chinese features.
The Daily Telegraph

Red alert on olive leaves after rumour over health
Roll over, retsina: the Greeks are going crazy for a new drink, olive-leaf juice. It has been ignored as a potential nutrient for 3,000 years, but a brief television reference that suggested it may lower cholesterol and reduce cancers in laboratory mice has made it as sought after as the tree’s fruit. Yesterday the Health Ministry called for calm, urging chat shows to stop parading purported ‘healers’ talking up the benefits of the leaves. The claims have little foundation, appearing to be based very loosely on a small-scale study of mice at the University of Athens.
The Times

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