Today's news

February 12, 2007

Blair to give £1 for every £2 gift to universities
Universities will be encouraged to build up funds of billions of pounds from former students and philanthropists under plans to be unveiled by Tony Blair this week. Drawing on the experience of US institutions that raise huge sums from alumni, the Government will give £1 for every £2 donated to English universities in an attempt to embed a "culture of charitable giving" across higher education. All universities in England will be eligible to take part in the scheme but it is expected to benefit elite institutions such as Oxford and Cambridge the most.
The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, The Times

Record numbers in search of a degree
Students have applied to university in record numbers this year despite the new top-up fees. Official figures this week will show a rise in applications overall. However, applications for some courses, such as modern foreign languages and computing, have fallen. Cambridge describes the situation as "very rosy". "The trend is up overall and we think it shows the success of our bursary scheme. Certainly, top-up fees have not put off students from applying to Cambridge," said a spokesman. Oxford University also reported a record number of applications.
The Daily Telegraph

Student editor in hiding as religious satire backfires
The editor of a Cambridge University college newspaper was in hiding last night after his attempt at religious satire backfired. The 19-year-old aspiring journalist, who has not been named, is under investigation by the authorities at Clare College who described the issue of the student newspaper Clarefication as "abhorrent". Most inflammatory was the reproduction of the infamous cartoon of the Prophet Mohamed, originally printed in the Danish newspaper Jyllands Posten in September 2005, triggering violent protests among some Muslims in which four people died.
The Independent, The Guardian

‘Blame cosmic rays not CO2 for warming up the planet’
The impact of cosmic rays on the climate could be greater than scientists suspect after experiments showed they may have a pivotal role in cloud formation. Researchers have managed to replicate the effect of cosmic rays on the aerosols in the atmosphere that help to create clouds. Henrik Svensmark, a weather scientist in Denmark, said the experiments suggested that man’s influence on global warming might be rather less than was supposed by the bulk of scientific opinion. Cosmic rays - radiation, or particles of energy, from stars, which bombard the Earth - can create electrically charged ions in the atmosphere that act as a magnet for water vapour, causing clouds to form.
The Times

ESP lab sees doors close
A laboratory dedicated to extra-sensory perception and telekinesis at the prestigious Princeton University in New Jersey is to close after nearly 30 years of research. The Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research laboratory was set up in 1979 by Richard Jahn, the university's former dean of applied science and engineering, to investigate whether human consciousness could interfere with sensitive computers and machinery, a possibility described as "functionally devastating" for people in aeroplane cockpits, operating theatres and intercontinental ballistic missile silos.
The Guardian

From the weekend's papers:


  • Harvard to name Drew Gilpin Faust first woman president. The Guardian


  • Report condemns 'compromised' academic standards and reduction of access to lecturers. The Observer
  • Leading universities are to press for tuition fees to be increased to £7,000 a year. The Times

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Recent controversy over the future directions of both Stanford and Melbourne university presses have raised questions about the role of in-house publishing arms in a world of commercialisation, impact agendas, alternative facts – and ever-diminishing monograph sales. Anna McKie reports

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