Update 12:00

October 3, 2002

Government in the dark over A-level fiasco
Prime Minister Tony Blair today acknowledged that the government does not yet know the full extent of the A-level marking debacle. Estimates have suggested that between 50,000 and 100,000 pupils could have been affected. Asked about the problems during his televised press conference in Blackpool, Mr Blair said the government was waiting for a report from Mike Tomlinson, heading the inquiry into the fiasco.

Net cost for e-banking
There is no competitive edge to be gained from internet banking, but banks are embracing it in order not to be put at a competitive disadvantage, according to Ulster University financial services researcher Mark Durkin. Banks throughout Europe had anticipated making significant savings, but costs have risen because customers still use branches as well as the internet. 

Heard the one about the funniest joke?
The world’s funniest joke was unveiled by scientists today at the end of Laughlab, the largest study of humour ever undertaken. For the past year people worldwide have been invited by University of Hertfordshire psychologist Richard Wiseman, to judge jokes on an internet site and contribute their own. The winning joke goes as follows: Two hunters are out in the woods when one of them collapses. He doesn’t seem to be breathing and his eyes are glazed. The other guy whips out his phone and calls the emergency services. He gasps: “My friend is dead! What can I do?” The operator says: “Calm down, I can help. First, let’s make sure he’s dead.” There is a silence, then a shot is heard. Back on the phone, the guy says: “OK, now what?” The joke was submitted by a Manchester psychiatrist.

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Universities in most nations are now obliged to prioritise graduate career prospects, but how it should be approached depends on your view of the meaning of education. Academics need to think that through much more clearly, says Tom Cutterham



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