Today's news

March 7, 2007

Pupils 'copy Ucas forms off internet'
Thousands of sixth-formers are plagiarising material from the internet to complete their university application forms, it was revealed today. The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service is doubling the size of its anti-cheating unit after a study found that one in twenty Oxbridge applicants copied material from websites when filling in their personal statements. Nearly 400,000 people applied to university undergraduate courses this year, suggesting the number of cheating teenagers could be as high as 20,000. Personal statements - which allow students to outline their academic and personal interests and explain why they are suited to their chosen course - are central to the admissions process, as they allow the most talented students to display their flair and extracurricular achievements.
The Daily Telegraph, The London Evening Standard, The Times Higher Education Supplement (March 9)

£21.2m merger to create super-university
A new super-university is to be created following the announcement yesterday of a £21.2 million merger between two higher education institutions. The University of Paisley and Hamilton-based Bell College have received ministerial approval for the tie-in, scheduled to take place this August. The new body, to be called the University of the West of Scotland, will have almost 16,600 students and four campuses in Ayr, Dumfries, Hamilton and Paisley. However, it will not be Scotland's largest higher education institution - Glasgow University is the biggest, with 25,100 students, according to the Higher Education Statistics Agency.
The Scotsman, The Guardian

Cambridge porters given hepatitis jabs to protect against bingeing students
Cambridge University is supposed to be a place where students consume vast amounts of information and regurgitate it in essays and exams. But the burgeoning binge-drinking culture means many are instead consuming huge quantities of alcohol before bringing it up wherever they stagger. The problem has become so common that staff at one college are now being vaccinated against Hepatitis B because they spend so much time wiping up vomit.
The London Evening Standard

Campaign ends in jail for animal extremists
Three animal rights activists were jailed yesterday for their part in a campaign of intimidation against companies associated with a leading animal research organisation. The campaign was aimed at businesses which either supplied or dealt with Huntingdon Life Sciences in Cambridgeshire. Mark Taylor, 39, his wife, Suzanne, 35, both of Wakefield, West Yorkshire, and Teresa Portwine, 48, of New Addington, Surrey, were prosecuted under the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005, which is aimed at tackling extremism.
The Daily Telegraph

Special Branch to badge up after campus spying claims
Special Branch officers last night said they would wear badges identifying themselves if they visit a university campus in future, after they were accused of "spying" on students. Craig Murray, the former diplomat who last month succeeded TV personality Lorraine Kelly as rector of Dundee University, said he had been "appalled" to learn that members of Special Branch had attended the university's student freshers' fair last year. Mr Murray, 48, claimed that the officers, who were members of Tayside Police's community contact unit, had been taking down the names of students who signed up to support the "Stop the War" movement - a claim the force has strenuously denied.
The Scotsman

Biomedical research chief departs as reforms loom
Uncertainty over the immediate future of Britain's Medical Research Council has persuaded its head to decide to step down when his present contract expires this September. Neuroscientist Colin Blakemore, who has been in post since 2003, has decided not to apply for a second term because the MRC will suffer a temporary loss of independence over the next two or so years. A government decision to reform UK health funding, announced last December, will see two advisory boards — one for clinical research, another for public health — established to oversee the Department of Health's and the MRC's spending.
Nature

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