News in brief

27 April 2012

Boat race protester in court

Trenton Oldfield has appeared at Feltham Magistrates’ Court charged with causing a public nuisance after he stopped this year’s Boat Race on 7 April. He was released on bail on the conditions that he doesn’t enter the City of Westminster on 9 May, when the state opening of Parliament will take place, or the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead before he appears at Isleworth Crown Court on 28 May. He is also banned from being within 100m of, or using roads which comprise the Olympic torch route.

Students join sugar daddy dating sites

Female students struggling to pay fees are turning to ‘sugar daddy’ dating sites with the aim of meeting rich older men who they hope will help them with their debts. Figures released from site showed Nottingham University were the top institution, with 61 sign-ups, Cambridge following fourth with 46. The site, which labels itself as ‘the elite sugar daddy dating site for those seeking mutually beneficial relationships’ said that 35 per cent of the site’s 50,000 UK members were students in need of relationships with added monetary benefits.

Survey reveals university as a love trap

A survey by has found that 81 per cent of students agree that university is the ideal place to meet a partner. The survey, prompted by the upcoming first wedding anniversary of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, revealed that 57 per cent of people questioned enter a new relationship at university with 32 per cent going onto marry their university boyfriend or girlfriend. 60 per cent of relationships were found to have begun in fairly traditional circumstances initiated when the man asked the woman out on a date.

Inquest opened into former St Catharine’s College student death

An inquest has begun into the death of Gareth Williams, the GCHQ worker on secondment to MI6 found dead in a sports bag in his bath at his London flat in August 2010. Williams studied at Bangor University, graduating aged 19, and went on to St Catharine’s College to read for a postgraduate certificate in Mathematics in 2000. Speaking at the inquest, his sister Ceri Subbe said he only let “vetted” people in to his home and found life in “rat-race” London difficult.

Punt touts tone down

New regulations have been introduced to restrict the ‘annoying’ actions of punt touts operating in Cambridge city centre. Following worries that excessive numbers of touts were tarnishing the tourist appeal of the city, Cambridge City Council have banned trading from Garrett Hostel Lane, from which most of the touts on King’s Parade are thought to operate. A code of conduct has also been introduced, which states no more than seven touts from one company can operate from one station. Tourists have said the activity of touts seemed ‘tamer’ since the new restrictions.

Cambridge still top spot for 2013

The University of Cambridge has been named the best university in the UK in The Complete University Guide for 2013, in which it ranked first in 30 of the 46 subjects it offers. In a surprise dip, the University of Oxford dropped to third place, with the London School of Economics taking second place. It is thought that this slip is due to a decline in job prospects for Oxford students. Dr Bernard Kingston, who headed the team compiling the guide, explained that the changes in rankings this year were mostly driven by recession-related issues.

Police crackdown on bike crime

Cambridge bike theft and cycling offences have received particular attention from the city’s police force this year. Since 1 January 78 bike thieves have been arrested and patrols have been increased at bike theft hotspots. A police spokesperson commented that the Cambridge police “will not tolerate such criminality.” However, while your bike might be safer, you’d better beware of the forces’ pledge to “target cyclists who flout the traffic laws to ensure the roads and footpaths are safe for other motorists and pedestrians”. 103 fines have so far been issued to “anti-social cyclists”.

Universities could be sold off

Following the sale of the College of Law to a private equity firm last week, there has been speculation that more universities could become private in the near future. Montagu Private Equity, who bought the College for around £200m, have no prior experience in the education sector, but their move has been seen as a possible model for the future activities of for-profit companies as public education funding reduces. Although experts have claimed it unlikely traditional universities will be privatised in the near future, they have predicted an increase in private money being used to finance university activities.

Maths don sparks journal uproar

After writing a blog article in which he vowed he would no longer submit or review papers for the world’s largest publisher of academic journals, almost 9,000 signatories have given their support to Tim Gowers’ opposition to the academic journal system. Many academics have been angered that access to the results of their largely public-funded research is restricted to universities who pay millions of pounds a year to private publishing houses. In addition to the petition, Harvard University Library encouraged all Faculty members this week to only submit articles to open-access journals.

Lego aids bone growth research

A team of students and researchers from Cambridge’s Department of Engineering have found a novel way to aid their experiments. The group, who are trying to develop synthetic bone material for use in bone grafts, found they were required to dip sample continuously in different substances for a prolonged period of time. Rather than buy expensive equipment to automate the process, the team decided to build Lego machines to lend a hand. A video of the machines, made by Google to help promote their online Science Fair, has already received over 100,000 views.

Western economists bankrupted the Eastern Bloc

A new study of Eastern Europe led by Cambridge academics has revealed that rapid capitalisation advocated by western economists has lead to bankruptcy and corruption in former Soviet countries. Fast-track privatisation projects devised in the west in the early 1990s and pushed by the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development have been found to produce a severe recession instead of the projected boom.

School students encouraged to sign anti-gay petition

St Philomena’s Catholic High School for Girls, a state school in south London, have been encouraged to sign the Coalition for Marriage’s petition against proposals same-sex marriage This followed a request from the Catholic Education Service asking 359 Catholic state schools to publicise a letter sent by senior archbishops arguing that it is their “duty” as Catholics to do “all we can to ensure that the true meaning of marriage is not lost for future generations”. The British Humanist Association, the National Secular Society, and SchoolsOut have suggested that this might break several laws.

Cambridge research helps predict heart attacks

An award-winning British Heart Foundation research project, carried out by scientists from Cambridge and Edinburgh, has tested new scanning techniques which will help doctors predict patient’s risk of having a heart attack. Every year, around 124,000 people in the UK suffer a heart attack, for which the most common cause is coronary heart disease. This study is the first to combine PET and CT scanning to assess the progression of the disease through capturing images of the coronary arteries.

Researcher argues for incorporation of Islamic banking

An analysis published by the Cambridge University’s Centre for Business Research, has claimed that the co-existence of the western and Islamic banking systems would result in a global improvement in the worldwide financial system. The Islamic system has often been marked out as impracticable by financial experts, especially due to its strict regulations against interest. Now a growing trillion dollar industry, researchers Andrew Sheng and Ajit Singh have argued that introducing Islamic principles into western banking could lead to a much more successful global financial system.

Huntington hospital seduction scandal

A male nurse at Hinchingbroke Hospital in Huntington, Cambridgeshire has been struck off after he seduced a patient recovering from a suicide attempt and then dumped her by text. Davide Mangiavillano showered the 24-year-old woman, suffering from a borderline personality disorder, with gifts and asked for her contact details when she left the hospital. He later slept with her after turning up at her house uninvited. The mother-of-one told Cambridge News, “I was in a mess and I was so unwell”. Mangiavillano defended his behaviour as quite normal in his native Italy.

Ducking Hell

The Buttery on the Cambridge University Sidgwick Site has been welcoming a rather unusual character to the cafe recently. A duck, presumably making its way from the River Cam, is now a regular customer. At around midday, the staff at the Buttery expect its arrival, where their orange-billed and white-feathered friend waits outside the cafe doors, willing to accept any food from customers. It is rumoured that he prefers cheese and quackers. It is unknown what the duck’s name is; when asked, the duck did not comment.

TCS News Team

Photo: Jimmy Appleton