Today's news

February 26, 2007

Universities call for an extra £168m
Scotland's universities want an extra £168 million from the Scottish Executive to increase student numbers, improve facilities and pay for lecturers' wage rises. The increase would be worth 15 per cent above the rate of inflation and bring about a rise in state funding for the sector to £1.2 billion a year by 2011. Sir Muir Russell, principal of Glasgow University and convener of the umbrella body Universities Scotland, said that the rise would also prevent the need for top-up fees to be introduced in the near future. In all, the universities estimate they will need to increase their spending by £340 million over the next three years, but say they will be able to raise around half of that themselves from private sources, research grants and philanthropic donations.
The Scotsman

40 die as bombers target Iraqi students
Militants in Iraq struck another devastating blow against Baghdad's remnant intellectual and middle classes yesterday, when a suicide bomber killed more than 40 students at the city's second largest university. The bomber detonated himself at the gates of the Business and Administration department of Mustansiriyah University as some students were arriving for examinations. "There were bodies everywhere," said one professor, who refused to be identified. Last month a co-ordinated triple bomb attack on the university's main campus killed 70 people, with militants sowing terror among bastions of learning and sectarian inclusiveness in the Iraqi capital.
The Daily Telegraph, the Independent

Reforms aim to help poorer graduates become barristers
Graduates from under-privileged backgrounds are to challenge the elitism of the barristers' profession, under plans outlined today. Reforms aimed at challenging the dominance of the rich and privileged classes, which are disproportionately represented among the membership of the Bar, will tackle the decline in students from poorer backgrounds joining the profession. They include financial assistance as well as measures to end the "intimidating environment" of the barristers' chambers that young lawyers must join if they want to train as advocates. The increasing cost of the Bar and a perception that it is run by a social elite has halted progress in the greater inclusion of barristers from different backgrounds.
The Independent

Animal rights activists are forced to rethink tactics
Behind 12-ft high fences workmen in balaclavas are making swift progress as a vast new animal research laboratory nears completion. It is a year today since a 16-year-old schoolboy, Laurie Pycroft, formed Pro Test, an organisation to speak out in favour of animal testing at Oxford University, and the pendulum appears to have swung away from those who oppose vivisection, towards the right of scientists to carry out what they say is important research work. The combined and costly efforts of the Government, the police and the courts to contain the more vociferous animal rights activists who oppose the laboratory have seen extremists put behind bars - the latest, Donald Currie, received 12 years for arson attacks - and forced some in the animal rights movement to reconsider their tactics.
The Guardian

St Andrews hit by fade of 'Wills Effect'
Applications to St Andrews university have slumped with the fading of the "Wills Effect", a year since Prince William graduated. Figures show that Scotland's oldest seat of learning recorded the biggest drop in applications of any Scottish university - a decline of 6 per cent, compared with the 44.4 per cent rise of 2001 when it was announced that the prince was to study geography there. Kirsty Speed, a student and part-time waitress at the Fife town's Westport bar, where William often socialised, said: "The buzz has finally gone. Life is certainly not the same with him not around."
The Daily Telegraph

Unseen species revealed as ice shelf breaks
The break-up of the Larsen ice shelf in the Antarctic has opened up hundreds of miles of seafloor to a host of creatures and given birth to an ecosystem. Scientists found the animals as they conducted the first survey of life on a seabed hidden by ice 650 feet thick until the shelf broke up. The expedition to the northwest Weddell Sea, including the open waters where the ice shelf used to lie, found an estimated 1,000 species of animal and plant life. At least 20 species were new to science, including a giant amphipod and a sea anemone in a symbiotic relationship with a snail.
The Times

From the weekend's papers:

Saturday


  • State pupils angry as elite universities open their doors to fewer of them. The Daily Telegraph
  • Universities risk fines for taking in too many students. The Independent
  • Students at Loughborough University in fear of campus sex attacker. The Daily Telegraph

Sunday

Scientists trace the roots of 'traditional English' apple back to central Asia. The Sunday Telegraph

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