Bristol students pressed for council tax

Final-year students at Bristol University are being made to pay council tax almost immediately after their last exam, Epigram reports.

Bristol City Council is particularly targeting those who have tenancy agreements that stretch beyond the end of the academic year, with the reasoning that people are no longer students once their degree programme finishes.

This has included students who have temporarily not been in education between their undergraduate and master's degrees.

Lou Eddins, a spokeswoman for the council, said that the handbook issued to all new students included a section explaining tax exemptions. She added: "The council has a minimum debt threshold that must be met before we take enforcement action to recover council tax. In the case quoted, the threshold had been met."

A spokesperson for the student union letting agency said: "We will look into making the summer liability for graduates more explicit now that this has been raised."

Leeds "scam" letters part of student project

Letters sent to Leeds students that appeared to be from a fake letting agent trying to enter houses illegally have been revealed as part of a university performance project.

The letters were sent to student tenants in the Hyde Park area of the city and asked them to tidy their rooms and keep internal doors unlocked so the "letting agent" could come and take photographs. This prompted the student union and the accommodation regulator Unipol to warn that the supposed agent was not a real company.

But it has now emerged that the "scam" was part of a theatre and performance project by second-year students in collaboration with the university and police. The households targeted had been informed in advance.

One of the students involved, Zosh Skowronska, said: "The letter being taken seriously and going viral has only helped the delivery of the police’s crime prevention message, which can only be a good thing."

Cambridge college heads' pay gap explained

The salaries of college masters at the University of Cambridge vary by as much as £70,000, according to The Cambridge Student.

A series of Freedom of Information requests made by the newspaper revealed that Sir Richard Dearlove, the master of Pembroke College, was paid £103,467 and Sir Gregory Winter, the master of Trinity College, was paid £88,817. Nicola Padfield was paid just £30,342 by Fitzwilliam College, however, while Churchill College paid its master £38,419.

The gap was explained however by Robert Gardiner, the senior bursar of Murray Edwards College, who said the Fitzwilliam and Churchill positions were part-time posts whereas the others were full-time roles. Rory Landman, Trinity's senior bursar, agreed and said: "I suspect we are not comparing like with like".

Exeter to trial longer teaching days

Students at the University of Exeter could be in class from 8:30am until 5:30pm next year under proposed timetabling changes.

The Exeter Tab reports that teaching days are to be extended and lessons will be scheduled on the half hour as part of a trial during the next academic year. There will also be a lesson slot at 5:30 pm on three days of the week for "when no other options are available".

The university stressed it would be "checking for problems or issues throughout the pilot year and are putting a number of measures in place to help make these changes work for everyone".

Reward offered for lost "space duck"

A rubber duck that was sent into space as part of a £1,000 science project has got lost over the North Yorkshire Moors, according to York Vision.

The duck, which was attached to a weather balloon, was launched by the University of York's Astronomy Society. The balloon was also carrying a camera and an array of sensors to collect data.

The society lost track of the project as it descended again, however, when the onboard GPS failed to send out a signal.

A £200 reward is now on offer to anyone who finds and retrieves the duck and equipment. Laceby Motors, one of the project's sponsors, has also offered a free MOT and service to the person who locates it.