News In Brief…

29 April 2013

Aberdeen University give students “puppy” room

Students at Aberdeen University in Scotland are to be given a “puppy room” on campus to de-stress during the exam period. Aberdeen University’s Exam Welfare Initiative, in collaboration with Guide Dogs For The Blind Association, are setting up a room on campus between the 13th and 23rd May with puppies to help students relax. This follows research published at Hiroshima University in Japan last October, which found that photos of kittens and puppies can help with concentration, based on evidence from three separate experiments published in the paper called ‘Power of Kawaii’, where “Kawaii” is the Japanese word for “cute”.

Ban lifted on London Met Uni enrolling foreign students

The Home Office has lifted a ban on London Metropolitan University admitting students from outside the European Union after agreeing it has made sufficient improvements to its monitoring systems. In August last year, the university was stripped of its right to grant overseas student visas after evidence of widespread abuse was uncovered. The immigration minister, Mark Harper, said a series of inspections had shown the university had made the necessary improvements to its systems and administration. The university will be on probation for a year “to build a track record of compliance”, he added.

£5.6 million electronics research centre to open in Cambridge

The Government has chosen Cambridge to be one of four electronics research centres around the country, which will cost a total of £21 million to set up. The Cambridge Centre, which will be linked to Cambridge University’s engineering department, will be led by Chris Rider, principal research associate in the department, and will cost around £5.6 million. David Willetts, Universities and Science Minister, said the investment would maintain the UK’s “world-class research base.” The Cambridge Centre is due to be opened in October this year.

Edinburgh University to lead search for aliens

Edinburgh University’s new UK Centre for Astrobiology is to spearhead Britain’s hunt for aliens – bringing together researchers from 15 institutions across the country. The world-renowned Astrobiologist Professor Charles Cockell, who will lead the centre, said: “It’s all about better knowledge of extreme environments in outer space based on extreme environments right here on Earth. Of course, it’s very difficult to search for intelligent life and there hasn’t been any evidence that it exists. But essentially, we’ll be looking at all possible forms of life. Astrobiologists are interested in looking for Earth-like planets around other stars, which could host micro-organisms or intelligent life.”

Cambridge New Museums Site to undergo facelift

Proposals for a facelift for the New Museums Site, off Pembroke Street and Corn Exchange Street, have been submitted for the first phase of development. The New Museums Site currently houses the Babbage Lecture Theatre, the Department of Materials Science and Metallurgy, and the University Computing Service. The application said: “It is hoped that some of the architecturally less distinguished buildings in the centre of the site might be demolished to allow the creation of external spaces that would form a significant public realm with well-designed landscaping, improved daylighting, access, way-finding,

Cambridge admission interviews in Australia

Cambridge University will hold undergraduate entry interviews in Sydney this year. The coordinator of the Australian interview team, Kelvin Bowkett, said: “By coming to Australia, we hope to provide a simpler way for young people with ambition and ability to apply and succeed.” In the 2011 student application cycle, Cambridge received 79 applications from Australia, of which 11 were accepted. The application deadline to be considered for interview in Australia is September 20. Interviews will take place in December.

Opposition grows to University of Sussex outsourcing

Departments have increasingly voiced support for the protests since the eviction on 2 April of a student occupation against outsourcing, with statements signed by more than 140 individual faculty and staff. Plans to transfer 235 estates and catering jobs to private companies were announced in May last year. Members of Unison, the University and College Union and Unite have all launched consultations asking members whether they would be prepared to take industrial action. In a referendum 70 per cent of voting students (1,264) said the union should campaign against the outsourcing plans.

Warwick University researchers find ways to make half-fat chocolate

University of Warwick researchers said water, fruit juice or even alcohol could replace up to half the fat contained in chocolate. The Warwick team first published an attempt to crack the problem with fruit juices. “That was exciting because it had the combination of fruit juice and chocolate, and everybody went wild on it,” Dr Bon said. “Then some people said: ‘but can we do alcohol? We’ve been working very hard in the lab to make a system that can do that. So you can stick to your fruit juice if you want, but you can also make a vodka-based chocolate bar, which is exciting – obviously not very healthy, but exciting.”

Double yellow lines causing confusion in Cambridge

Drivers have been left confused by road-markings near the city’s police station after double yellow lines were painted around a pothole. Nearby signs warned drivers they could face fines of £50 or £70 if they parked on the double yellow lines. Council official John Onslow said the markings had now been painted over adding: “These were old yellow lines which used to go round a traffic island that stood on the road which was removed at the request of the bus operators.”

Rowan Williams to trolley dash for City Foodbank

The new master of Magdalene College and former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, will push a food trolley through town on Saturday 27th April to raise funds for the Cambridge City Foodbank. He will join the Mayor, Sheila Stuart, in pushing the trolley from Magdalene College at 10.30, before volunteers take it down Sidney Street and around the centre of town. Funds will go towards the Cambridge City Foodbank, which provides residents in crisis with 3 days of emergency food relief. Dr Williams became a patron of the charity in February.

Crime alert at St John’s College

An email sent by John’s Head Porter said that a room had been entered, with a number of items having been stolen: “Unfortunately the room had been left open/insecure making the entry and theft quite easy”. Also, property went missing from communal kitchens, two laptops were stolen from the college library and a bicycle was stolen after its lock was cut. The head porter urged all college members to call the Porters immediately if “you see anyone/anything suspicious on your staircase, tailgating you into a secure area or acting in any way that gives you cause for concern.”