From today's UK papers

November 19, 2001

Oxbridge colleges called to account
A Cabinet Office investigation has found that 80 of the best endowed charities in the country do not file regular accounts with the Charity Commission - yet they receive millions of pounds in public support each year. They are the colleges of Oxford and Cambridge universities, and their future status is now under scrutiny from special advisers at No.10. Officials have been dismayed to find that no one, including the Higher Education Funding Council, seems to know exactly how much the colleges receive from the state. (Guardian)

Firms give graduate recruits bad marks
Nearly a fifth of companies with graduate schemes were unhappy with the calibre of their new staff and said that they had failed to meet requirements, according to the latest Recruitment Confidence Index survey. (Daily Telegraph)

Colleges fear student stayaway over fees
Universities fear that thousands of students will postpone their entry next year in expectation of the return of grants - to replace loans - in 2003. The delay could put lecturers' jobs at risk. Former polytechnics are particularly concerned, they have little research income to fall back on. Phil Willis, Liberal Democrat education spokesman, said the situation was a "shambles". Tony Blair announced the rethink on student loans and tuition fees at the Labour Party conference after widespread concern over the debts being run up by students. (The Times)

Heart bypass death rates expose 'health ghettos'
Scores of heart bypass patients are dying needlessly because of wide variations in hospital care and surgical techniques, tables disclose today. Nearly four times as many people die in some hospitals after the operation as the most successful centres, research by the Imperial College School of Medicine for The Times reveals. (The Times)

New foundation degrees fill up
Most of the places on the government's skills-based foundation degree courses have been filled, according to data to be released later this month. The most successful courses are those that have identified skills gaps and been designed in partnership with the private sector. (Financial Times)

Parents warned against stem-cell firms
Parents have been advised to avoid companies that collect and store cells from umbilical cords as an insurance against future illness. The companies promise to store the cells indefinitely in case the child or its siblings should develop an illness that could be treated by cord blood transplantation. However, there is no scientific evidence to support the companies' claims, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists said yesterday. (The Times)

Violent pupils force teachers out
A recent survey by Warwick University for the National Union of Teachers reported that 80 per cent of teachers believed pupil behaviour had deteriorated during their time in the classroom. Research for the same union by Liverpool University found that pupil behaviour was the second biggest reason given by secondary school teachers for wanting to leave the profession. (Guardian)

Children who have hobbies 'do better'
Children who spend their spare time on hobbies and sports do better at school than youngsters who play outdoors or just "hang out". A study by psychologists at Penn State University in the United States found that children who fail to take up an interest or activity were more likely to display bad conduct or symptoms of depression. (Independent)

New light on the magic of Harry Potter's ancestors
A Channel 4 documentary called Real Wizards will cast new light on magic when experts look at the evidence for wizardry in the pagan world. Historian Ronald Hutton from Bristol University, an expert on witchcraft, believes the modern counterparts of wizards are "those who claim special knowledge that other people don't have", such as economic gurus, high-technology scientists, politicians and psychiatrists. (Daily Telegraph)

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