05 May 2003
The Durban Institute of Technology (DIT) became the first institution of higher learning in the country to slaughter a cow in a desperate attempt to curb the deaths of students and staff on campus. The traditional cleansing ceremony attended by DIT senior management, union representatives, employees and student leaders was described by DIT vice-chancellor Professor Dan Ncayiyana as a traditional response to the "modern" dangers facing students. About 10 students have died since the formation of the DIT last year, prompting African students to demand a traditional ceremony to introduce the new institution to the ancestors. This year alone about five people have died in separate incidents and this sparked an outcry from staff and management for the institution to act.

Zambia's COPPERBELT University (CBU) management has suspended IMIS computer classes conducted in the computer centre and reduced subscription fees as demanded by students. According to a statement signed by CBU registrar Kenneth Kapika, management had with immediate effect suspended the laboratories until extensions to the computer centre were completed. "Management have with immediate effect reduced Internet subscription fees from K15,000 (R23) to K10,000 (R15) per month, to enable more students access Internet facilities," the statement read.

Professor Nick Wanjohi of the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology said he had the qualifications and experience for the position. Those questioning his competence were misinformed, he added. Prof Wanjohi said he was under no obligation to emulate his predecessor, Prof Ratemo Michieka, as demanded by his students. "I do not know what Prof Michieka delivered, but I know what I plan to deliver as the vice-chancellor here. Furthermore, I will not be working alone, but with a team comprising of the council, the senate and the student leaders," he said. Michieka, the founding VC, has since been appointed director-general of the National Environmental Management Authority.

To partially offset cuts to its athletics budget, Glenville State College in West Virginia in the America will charge its athletes $100 (R700) for each intercollegiate team they play on, the West Virginia institution announced last week. Officials of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics said the college was the first to charge such a fee. The new fee will go into effect next fall. While it has dismayed some coaches and athletes at the college, Thomas H. Powell, Glenville State's president, said the alternative would have been to reduce the number of teams in the sports programme. "I think intercollegiate athletics are an essential part of the undergraduate experience," Powell said. "We have to be creative about finding ways to fund them instead of cutting them."

A mass spectrometer is a complicated and expensive piece of equipment - so complicated and so expensive, in fact, that most undergraduate chemistry students never get a chance to use one. Now professors at Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh have developed what they call a Virtual Mass Spectrometry Laboratory. It gives students who wouldn't otherwise have access to the bricks-and-mortar version of such a lab a chance to experience how the equipment works. Spectrometers allow chemists to study the composition of compounds such as proteins and polymers. The equipment can read a molecule's "fingerprint," from which chemists can identify it. Spectrometers are sensitive enough to identify traces of a substance found in a person's blood, urine, or hair.

Sources:, Independent Online, Chronicle of Higher Education

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