The Week in Higher Education

The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE, January 12, 2012 | Go to article overview

The Week in Higher Education


Top marks to zoology researchers at the University of Oxford for their canny PR. Finding a new species of crab on the ocean floor near Antarctica would not normally win newspaper column inches nor links on the BBC News website and CBS online. But the research team astutely likened the hairy-chested yeti crab to the Baywatch star David Hasselhoff - famed for his hirsute torso - dubbing it "The Hoff". Cue extensive coverage on 4 January, including in The Guardian and the Daily Mail, complete with photos of The Hoff in action - the muscle-bound actor that is, not the bug-eyed crustacean.

Universities raised Pounds 50 million by fining students for overdue library books, The Daily Telegraph reported on 7 January. The top earner was the University of Leeds, which collected Pounds 1.8 million in the past six years, while Edinburgh Napier University's Pounds 1-a-day penalties contrasted with some that charged just 10p. A clue to the whereabouts of the sector's 300,000 missing books might also be found in the newspaper's online comments section. One reader recounts those "hazy days when I'd go into the library with my gear bag - and nick every book I could", while another recalls deliberately misfiling titles to stop others "hiding" books.

Illness forced Stephen Hawking to miss his 70th birthday party, attended by luminaries from academia, business and showbusiness. But the physicist was able to deliver a pre-recorded birthday lecture to a packed auditorium in Cambridge on 8 January. Professor Hawking, who was given just two years to live after he was diagnosed with motor neuron disease in 1963, told guests including the model Lily Cole and Sir Richard Branson that he had been mediocre at school and had not learned to read until he was eight. He added: "When I was 12, one of my friends bet another friend a bag of sweets that I would never come to anything. I don't know if this bet was ever settled and, if so, which way it was decided."

Complaints of sub-standard teaching and overcrowding have led the University of Manchester to cut student numbers by more than 1,000, The Sunday Times claimed. …

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