Reporter 428, 30 November 1998

News in brief

Boyle back Short-ly

Secretary of State for International Development Clare Short MP will be delivering the University's biennial Boyle lecture next February.

Ms Short graduated from the University in 1968 with a BA in Political Studies, and will be returning to give the lecture An end to handouts - the new development agenda.

The lecture commemorates former Minister for Education Lord (Edward) Boyle, who served as University Vice-Chancellor for over a decade until his death in 1981.

The Boyle lecture takes place on February 9 at 5.30pm in the Council Chamber. Admission to the lecture is free of charge but is by ticket only.

For tickets and more information contact Joan Booth in the Vice-Chancellor's office on ext 4059.

Chinese U-turn

Chinese traffic levels are growing so quickly that University transport researchers flew over last week to help prevent an environmental catastrophe.

Dr Ronghui Liu and Frances Hodgson of the Institute for Transport Studies helped run an intensive one-week seminar for professionals and politicians in Guangdong province.

The region's River Pearl delta is being threatened by rapid increases in car ownership and economic expansion.

Library promotion

The Government has invited University Pro-Vice-Chancellor Lynne Brindley to help UK libraries master new information and communications technology.

Culture Secretary Chris Smith has appointed Mrs Brindley to the Library and Information Commission, which provides a strategic focus for the library and information sector and takes a leading role in promoting its development.

The Commission also provides advice on European issues and represents the UK in the international arena. Mrs Brindley is the Dean of Information Strategy and University Librarian, and was appointed as Pro-Vice-Chancellor for communications and information technology in August.

Sparks fly at lecture

A spectacular demonstration of electrostatics drew one of the biggest ever audiences to the Rupert Beckett lecture theatre on November 10 - and the organisers are already planning for an even better event next year. Arcs, Sparks and Electron Microscopes was presented by Bryson Gore, famed for his role in the televised Royal Institution Christmas lectures, and spanned the centuries from the ancient Greeks to the early resuscitation techniques pioneered by a certain Dr Frankenstein. The public lecture was sponsored by the Leeds Philosophical and Literary Society.

The science of slime

Soft slimy stuff - and the science behind its strange behaviour - will be demonstrated at a Christmas lecture for schools on December 18 (3pm).

An upbeat presentation for 11 to 18-year-olds will explain how physicists, chemists, biologists and mathematicians are working on the science of "soft matter" from designer polymers to the molecules of life itself. The lecture also promises to reveal a startling trick with the fluids which can be re-created in your own kitchen!

Speakers include Dr Peter Olmsted, research fellow in the Department of Physics and Astronomy. Places are still available - for more information contact Maureen Thompson on ext 3810.

Murder most German

A murder on the playing fields of the University's Oxley Hall during a recent conference has been brought to the attention of the German department.

The gruesome act, driven by jealousy and academic rivalry among German literature professors, is described in Elfie das Biest, a story by well-known Swiss novelist Peter Zeindler.

Zeindler was a guest at the German department's conference on The Novel in Anglo-German Perspective at Oxley Hall in September 1997 - though no-one realised he was researching his latest story at the time. "We are delighted that the conference has been immortalised and relieved that, despite a number of suspects, no member of the department is implicated," said Dr Richard Byrn.

The story is included in the collection of campus tales: Dietrich Schwanitz ua, Amoklauf im Audimax, which the department is planning to translate.

Brazilian blend

Co-operation with Brazil will be strengthened over the next few months with a new link agreement between Leeds and the University of São Paulo (USP).

Dick Killington, the University's Principal Adviser (Brazil) recently met senior colleagues at USP to identify areas of common interest, and a joint seminar is planned in spring 1999. The link is one of a growing number of academic developments with Brazilian institutions to be discussed at the December 16 meeting of Brazilnet, the in-house forum for staff with interests in Brazil.

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Costing the courses

Certain engineering courses cost on average twice as much to provide in higher education than further education, according to a new HEFCE report. But engineering degree courses proved cheaper to provide in higher than further education.

The variations in cost per student for different individual programmes was based on the staffing costs, faculty costs and institutional costs.

HND Engineering courses in higher education were the most expensive to provide, costing an average £7,725 per student, compared to an average £3,969 in further education. BA Business Studies courses were the cheapest for higher education providers, costing an average £2,165. Full details of the report are on the HEFCE website at

Recruitment website

A new website has been set up as part of the International Recruitment Initiative (IRI) to provide information about the University recruitment activities in key overseas markets. Aimed at staff who deal with overseas enquiries on a regular basis, the IRI website is at: external-affairs/iri

Esso fuels research

Mechanical Engineering lecturer Dr Martin Priest has been awarded the department's fourth Esso Engineering Teaching Fellowship. The prestigious four-year Fellowship attracts a substantial honorarium and will allow Dr Priest to strengthen research links with the petroleum industry.

Communicating quality

The Institute of Communication Studies was graded as "excellent" following the recent re-visit of a team of quality assurance assessors - with scores of four 4s and two 3s - giving a total of 22 points.

Institute director Professor Philip Taylor said: "Staff and students are delighted by the outcome and feel this fully reflects both the quality of teaching and the student learning experience available here."

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