Update 12:45

May 20, 2002

Debt will result in staff cuts, says DTI report
Universities need at least £800 million a year extra from the taxpayer to bring their buildings and equipment up to date, a report ordered by the Department of Trade and Industry warns today.

The review by David Westbury, vice-principal of Birmingham University, showed that universities spent £13.47 billion on teaching and research last year but, according to a government-approved accountancy method, should have spent £14.48 billion, or about £1.01 billion more.

In the next five years, some universities are expected to go into the red and the surplus for the whole sector was projected to be just £9 million a year. “In order to solve the finance problem, universities will reduce their staffing. That is resulting in severance packages in universities, just at a time when they ought to be retaining staff and gearing up for expansion to meet government recruitment targets,” said Professor Westbury.

Blair squares up to animal-rights lobby
Prime minister Tony Blair today declared he would “defend science” against attacks by misguided campaigners jeopardising British medical and economic progress. In an interview with The Times, he said animal-rights protesters and environmentalists would not be allowed to stand in the way of legitimate breakthroughs.

Graduate shortfall plagues public sector
Three out of four employers are having difficulty finding enough new graduates, a survey showed today. Demand was particularly strong in the public sector, where 89 per cent of organisations said they were having problems with graduate recruitment, according to a poll by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development

Dundee lands funds to research Glaxo
Dundee University historians Chris Whatley and Ann Petrie have been funded by GlaxoSmithKline to produce a history of the company’s Montrose plant, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this month. Professor Whatley said: “It is a relatively rare event for a humanities department to find commercial sponsorship for what is a very valid and interesting piece of research into Scotland’s recent industrial history.”    

Cornwall unveils state-of-the-art chillout zone
Students at a futuristic new £40 million higher education complex near Falmouth, Cornwall, will have somewhere different to get away from the stresses of study — chilling out on the fully landscaped roof. The main campus building for the Combined Universities in Cornwall has been designed to reflect the contours of the sloping site and the roof has been designed as a fully accessible series of landscaped terraces.

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