UK news in brief

June 28, 2002

Belfast students are target of blast bomb
There has been outrage in Belfast over the attempted murder of students in a house adjoining a nationalist area in the south of the city. A blast bomb studded with nails was thrown into a bedroom of a house occupied by six students, but the room's occupant was not at home.

The students, who have fled the house, said a Catholic had moved out a month ago after being threatened by the Ulster Defence Association. They blamed Loyalist paramilitaries for the attack.

Esmond Birnie, chairman of the Northern Ireland Assembly's committee for employment and learning, said: "[The] bomb attack is to be utterly condemned and seems to have been designed to either kill or seriously injure."

Employers told to stop 'recruiting in own image'
Employers should offer more jobs to graduates from a wider range of backgrounds, rather than "recruiting in their own image", industry and higher education chiefs have said.
Research commissioned by the Council for Industry and Higher Education has found that some groups of "non-traditional" graduates experience more difficulty than traditional ones in finding well-paid jobs.

The CIHE asked researchers to find out to what extent this was due to recruitment strategies that favour young, white, middle-class applicants. Information gathered from 87 organisations found many "exemplary" recruitment practices. But a report on the findings warns that there was "residual evidence of implicit bias in some of their recruitment and selection processes".

Publisher tells Israelis to go as part of boycott
A UK academic and publisher has defended her decision to dismiss two Israeli academics from the advisory boards of her journals.
Mona Baker, professor of translation studies at the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology and owner of St Jerome Publishing, said she had been vilified by the Israeli press and had received hate mail after her decision.

The boards of the journals were split over the dismissals of Miriam Shlesinger of Bar-Ilan University and Gideon Toury of Tel Aviv University. Some members have quit over the decision.

Professor Baker said: "I am boycotting Israeli institutions through their representatives, rather than Israelis as nationals."

Professor Shlesinger, previously a personal friend of Professor Baker, said: "I cannot fathom how it could possibly help the Palestinian cause."

MPs back lecturers' claim for more pay
Most MPs think the pay of college lecturers should be increased to at least match that of schoolteachers, a survey has found.
A poll conducted by the Harris MPs Panel for the Association of Colleges showed that two-thirds thought lecturers should be paid at least as much as schoolteachers. A quarter thought they should be paid more.

The survey follows a lobby of Parliament by the AoC, lecturers and student representatives calling for more college funding.

The AoC claims there is a £1,000 per student gap in funding between colleges and school sixth forms. Lecturers' union Natfhe is calling for the closure of a 12 per cent pay gap between teachers in colleges and schools.

History has gone mad with 'anything goes'
Historians have wasted so much time debating whether history has any meaning that they are in danger of losing the plot altogether, a leading academic will tell his peers next week.
In a plenary debate at the Anglo-American Conference of Historians on July 3, Peter Mandler, a lecturer at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, will say that historians have ignored methodology to such an extent that "it now appears that anything goes".

"There has been too much philosophical debating. There is now nothing you can't do in history, even putting mutually incomprehensible statements side by side," he will say.

E-publishing will be a lifeline for journals
Academic publishers will have to come up with better electronic publishing models if they want to stay in business, according to a survey of authors' and readers' habits and preferences.
Free electronic journals and long-term archiving and preservation of papers must move up the agenda of publishers to meet the requirements of users, said Sally Morris, secretary general of the Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers, which carried out the survey.

Some 79 per cent of respondents said it was important that electronic versions were free, and 89 per cent said long-term preservation of back volumes was important. Making journals available at favourable rates in some format to all parts of the world was seen as important by 84 per cent.

'Stop rich countries' intellectual monopoly'
Brian Lang, principal of St Andrews University, has suggested that universities in developing countries be twinned with those in the richest countries to guard against the first world monopolising teaching and research.
Dr Lang, speaking in Washington DC at the third annual conference of the World Bank's staff-exchange programme, said higher education was a substantial global business, with institutions beginning to explore the benefits they could gain from the "quasi-commercialisation" of their ideas and innovations.

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