Reporter 424, 5 October 1998


News in brief

The money MAIS

Testing begins today on software for the new finance and human resources systems which are due to be phased in early next year.

The Management and Administration Information Systems (MAIS) project team will be assessing new forms, reports and other business records and the interfaces between a large number of existing systems and the new software, which is being provided by SAP.

Heads of departments and resource centres have been invited to a briefing next Wednesday (October 14) on the latest developments. A small group of ‘key users’ who are advising the project team on departmental needs will also meet later this week.

The MAIS team’s third task – the replacement of the University’s student system – will begin early next year. Talks are currently taking place with potential suppliers.

Full information about MAIS, including the facility to quiz the team, can be found on the project’s web site at: www.leeds.ac.uk/mais

You can email the team at mais@leeds.ac.uk or telephone them on ext 6010.

Work-to-rule vote

The AUT is balloting its University of Leeds members on a union recommendation to cease a work-to-rule over the non-renewal of three Philosophy posts in July.

One has been given another fixed-term contract and a second is starting a physics PhD at Leeds.

The third has accepted a job at Manchester. The University has reiterated its willingness to negotiate on the use of fixed-term contracts generally. Around 130 contract staff have been offered permanent posts in an ongoing review.

Pay review update

The Association of University Administrators has told the independent pay review that it supports the adoption of a single national pay spine, but remains opposed to the establishment of a pay review body.

However, the Association of University Teachers believes a national pay spine would not fairly reflect all the relevant factors, including the local labour market. The AUT also repeated its support for an independent pay review body. The pay review is expected to publish its report in March.

Courting controversy

Law lecturer Ian Cram has focused attention on a constant source of friction between magistrates courts and journalists.

Section 39 of the Children and Young Persons Act gives courts the power to prevent under-18s being identified in court reports. But a recent survey of newspaper editors carried out by Mr Cram revealed that many believed the powers were being over-used by the magistrates.

Families at the centre of new research

Over a hundred people including local judges and barristers attended the recent launch of the Centre for Research on Family, Kinship and Childhood. The Centre will provide a focus for the inter-disciplinary research in several University departments, and will also increase research opportunities available.

“We were particularly pleased with the interest of local charities and organisations who regularly encounter the practical aspects of our research in their everyday work,” said Professor Carol Smart of the Department of Sociology and Social Policy. The Centre has been awarded ESRC funding for six seminars over two years on ‘Postmodern’ Kinship, the first of which will be on November 6.

Asthmatic decay

Asthma drugs could be eroding children’s teeth according to a research team from Leeds Dental Hospital. Dr Elizabeth O’Sullivan and Professor Martin Curzon, of the Paediatric Dentistry Department, found that the powdered form of the drugs may affect the enamel surface of young teeth.

It is more acidic than that found in aerosol inhalers, they have announced. “We are suggesting that children rinse their mouths out with water directly after taking the drug,” said Dr O’Sullivan.

Atomic retirement

The Cookridge Radiation Research Centre closed last week, bringing to an end over four decades of research into the medical, chemical and physical effects of radiation.

The Centre began as part of Cookridge Hospital in 1955, and its research interests quickly expanded – boosted by the acquisition of a Van de Graaff particle accelerator in 1964. In recent years the Centre has focused on using radiation as a tool to study atmospheric chemistry – researching topics such as acid rain and ozone depletion.

The closure of the Centre coincides with the retirement of its director, Dr Arthur Salmon, who has been at Cookridge since 1961.

Secret garden

The garden of a University academic was secretly transformed whilst he was away at a conference by the BBC’s Ground Force team.

The Pudsey garden of Peter Knapp, from the Research School of Medicine, was featured in the programme on September 24. Many of Dr Knapp’s colleagues were in on the secret, and even agreed to take on some of his work to enable him to attend the conference in Bangor.

High-level visitors see low-level waste

A group of senior executives from Energoatam, the Ukrainian nuclear power company, visited the University during the summer to see how it disposes of its radioactive waste.

Though unrelated to the world’s worst nuclear disaster at Chernobyl, the trip was part of a programme to improve safety at nuclear power stations in the Ukraine. The executives viewed the authorised incineration facilities at the University.

A spokesperson said the visit was useful and informative, as it enabled the process to be viewed from the production of waste to its safe disposal. The group was funded by a Department of Trade and Industry project to assist Central and Eastern Europe.

Special skills on the way

Proposals for the designation of special skills electives are being circulated to all academic departments and academic services.

The proposals have been prepared on behalf of the Teaching and Learning Board, in accordance with the paper on degree classification convergence, agreed by Senate’s last meeting of 1997/98.

Departments are asked to channel comments through faculty teaching and learning committees.

Crash course

Researchers at the University’s Institute for Transport Studies are using a driving simulator to measure the phenomenon known as ‘rubbernecking’, when drivers slow down and turn their heads to stare at an accident.

The aim is to produce a computer model that will allow traffic controllers to predict how an accident on one carriageway might affect traffic flow in the opposite direction.

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