World Encompassed

December 14, 2007

PHD COURSES PROVIDE 'POOR' CAREER TRAINING

Social sciences PhD courses are "inadequate" at preparing students for careers both in and outside academe, a new paper argues.

Courses should introduce students to employment outside academia and make clear to them that few will get coveted tenure-track positions and many may end up on less secure or temporary contracts, says the report from the Center for Innovation and Research in Graduate Education at the University of Washington.

The study says courses should teach students the non-academic skills they need to work in universities, including budgeting, management and writing funding proposals and there should be more courses on teaching. "PhD programmes that prepare students only for research and writing as lonely scholars in purely disciplinary contexts are providing inadequate preparation for many PhD careers," it says.

FOETAL CELLS CAN MEND A BROKEN HEART

Stem cells can repair the heart after an infection, a new study suggests.

The paper from the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden said infections left the heart with scar tissue, which impaired its pumping action and left the patient at risk of heart failure. At present the condition is treated with a balloon catheter, heart bypass or drugs, but cells from foetal hearts can be used to repair damaged hearts.

SARKOZY SELLS FIRM TO BOLSTER ACADEMIA

The French Government plans to sell part of a state-controlled energy firm to pay for university reforms.

President Nicolas Sarkozy told French television the Government would sell 3 per cent of a public firm, thought to be power company EDF, in order to invest EUR5 billion (£3.6 billion) in universities.

INDIAN EDUCATION FOR POOR SET TO EXPAND

India will open 370 new colleges in areas with low educational achievement as part of a plan to improve higher education. It also plans to boost enrolment by 5 per cent by setting up more universities and colleges and increasing the capacity of existing institutions.

The Government's university grants committee will investigate policies for public-private sector financing in higher education. It will also look at ways to improve the quality of state universities.

Meanwhile, the Government announced the locations for three of the eight new Indian Institutes of Technology proposed in the plan.

They will be in Bihar in the east, Rajasthan in the west and Andhra Pradesh in the south of the country. There will also be new universities in Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Goa Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and Uttarakhand.

BOSTON AIMS TO BE TOP CATHOLIC UNIVERSITY

A US university will invest $1.6 billion (£780 million) in staff and facilities as part of a ten-year plan intended to transform it into the world's top Catholic university.

Boston College will put $700 million into renovation and construction of buildings including sports and arts facilities, four new academic buildings and undergraduate housing. More than a dozen new centres and institutes will be created, and 100 new staff will be hired under the plan. William Leahy, the president, said that he also wanted the university to become a national leader in liberal arts.

PARTING BRINGS PAIN FOR MOTHER EARTH

Divorce does not just mean heartache - it is bad for the planet, too, according to new research.

A global study from Michigan State University found the US alone would have saved 73 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity and 6 billion gallons of water in 2005 if its divorced households had stayed married.

The need for homes, and the energy and materials needed to construct them, rose as divorce levels climbed because people lived separately rather than together. Energy and water consumption also rose because many appliances use the same amount of energy whether they are operated by single people or families.

Across 11 countries, divorce created 7.4 million more households between 1998 and 2002. The study said governments should factor divorce into environmental policies.

UTAH IN LINE FOR HUGE BUSINESS SCHOOL BOOST

The owner of a chemicals firm has pledged $25 million (£12.5 million) to a US business school. Jon Huntsman, who is selling his company Huntsman Corp after a bid of over $6 billion, gave the money to Utah State University's College of Business. The school has been renamed the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business.

Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine was left its biggest ever donation. Alumna Gertrude Donnelly Hess gave the school $5.7 million when she died, which will be used to create an endowed fund for oncology in her name.

REACH FOR HONEY FOR THAT TICKLY COUGH

Honey is more effective at relieving children's coughs than many over-the- counter medications, according to a study.

The research from Penn State College of Medicine found a small dose of buckwheat honey before bed was more effective than dextromethorphan, an ingredient found in many cough medicines.

The study looked at 105 children between the ages of two and 18. Dextromethorphan can cause side-effects in some young children, and previous work by the researchers found it was not significantly better at alleviating symptoms than leaving them untreated. The study was funded by the National Honey Board, a US government agency.

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