Today's news

February 20, 2007

Public concern over university privatisation
Increased privatisation in UK universities would lead to falling standards and harm Britain's international reputation, according to a new poll released today. The YouGov survey for the University and College Union polled more than 2,300 people, asking them for their views on the impact of using private companies to provide tuition to university students. Almost half of respondents said they believed university standards would fall and 59 per cent thought that Britain's higher education reputation abroad would be harmed. The general public was also against any further involvement of private firms in UK universities, the survey said. One in six said they would like to see an increase in the role of the private sector in UK universities, while more than a third called for a decrease.
The Guardian

Scientists unite to push Bush on climate
Pressure on the White House to act on scientific assessments of global warming mounted yesterday after the world's largest general scientific society said that climate change was a "threat to society". The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) joined the growing clamour for political action in a public statement approved by its board. It is the first time that the AAAS, which represents 262 societies and scientific academies, has published a statement of consensus on climate change.
The Times

Staff to go as university tackles cash crisis
Dundee University has confirmed it is to cut jobs and reduce courses in an attempt to avert a financial crisis. Its ruling court rubber-stamped the plan, which is aimed at tackling a deficit of more than £3 million. Sir Alan Langlands, the university's principal, announced last month that the measures were needed to address rising costs, including the implementation of a 13.1 per cent pay rise for lecturers over the next three years. In a statement last night, the university said it would try to avoid compulsory redundancies "wherever possible" and insisted that any job losses would be "modest". Further savings would come from reducing its courses in modern languages and town and regional planning.
The Scotsman

Drugs industry short of UK graduates
GlaxoSmithKline has given warning that a lack of UK science graduates is forcing Britain’s largest drugs company to recruit from overseas to fill key research posts. Jackie Hunter, a senior vice-president who leads one of GSK’s main global drug development centres, said that Britain was suffering an acute shortfall of scientists. Dr Hunter said that it was “absolutely vital” for the UK to address the issue to ensure the long-term competitiveness of the country’s pharmaceutical industry and to prevent a gradual drift of jobs and investment overseas. The sector contributed £3.4 billion in exports to Britain’s trade balance in 2004 - more than any other industry sector.
The Times, The Independent

Fife students on course for degrees at Edinburgh university
One hundred degree places at a university in Edinburgh are to be awarded each year to college students from Fife. The partnership between Napier University and Lauder College, in Dunfermline, will see degree courses made available to students in areas such as IT, computing and multimedia. More programmes, including business studies, management, engineering, science, health and the built environment, are also planned for next year. The partnership was sealed by Bill McIntosh, principal of Lauder College, and Napier's Peter Easy, academic development vice-principal.
The Scotsman

Lab-grown ligaments may help injured sports stars
Athletes and sports stars who suffer career-threatening knee injuries could one day benefit from replacement ligaments grown in the lab. US scientists bioengineered anterior cruciate ligaments and used them to repair knee joints in rabbits. Eventually, the researchers hope to treat humans who suffer ruptured ligaments using the technique. The anterior cruciate ligament sits behind the kneecap and can tear when placed under excessive strain, making it a common sports injury. Each year, an estimated 200,000 people suffer this type of injury in the US alone.
New Scientist

Letter
Regarding Oxford’s dilemma over admissions.
The Guardian

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