From today's UK papers

December 17, 2001

Oxbridge tested by increase in applicants
A record increase in applications to Oxbridge colleges could herald the end of interviews. Dons report that they are finding it increasingly hard to distinguish between candidates. Applications to the two universities rose by almost 18 per cent last year. (Times)

State school parents should have to pay
Parents should pay up to £5,700 a year for state secondary schooling for their children if they can afford it, an influential think-tank will recommend today. A paper from the Social Market Foundation says that paying for state education is the only way the government can realise Tony Blair's ideal that state schools could be funded on a par with private schools. (Independent)

£44m aid package to help keep secondary teachers
Headteachers will be able to offer teaching staff help with mortgage and rental costs as well as child care for the first time under a £44 million package to be unveiled by the government after Christmas. (Independent, Guardian, Daily Mail)

Chancellor calls for £3.4bn fund to reduce poverty
Gordon Brown will today call on the industrialised world to establish a $50 billion (£34 billion) a year fund to eradicate poverty as part of a 21st-century Marshall Plan to meet international targets for providing education and cutting poverty by 2015. (Independent, Guardian, Financial Times, Daily Mail)

Cambridge biotech company in enzyme success
Astex, a biotechnology company based in Cambridge, has won the international race to find the precise three-dimensional structure of a key enzyme involved in drug metabolism and toxicity. (Financial Times)

Young Britons begin work before Europe
British youngsters enter full-time work much earlier than their European contemporaries because they do not go on to higher education, a survey published by the Institute for Social and Economic Research says today. On average, Britons start their first full-time job shortly after their 19th birthday, while young people in Spain and Italy do not start until 24. (Times)

Too much practice makes imperfect
Practice makes perfect, so the saying goes, but rehearsing a process or task too often can lead to mistakes, two psychologists from Michigan State University have found. Performing worse than expected under pressure can strike the best rehearsed performers, causing ballerinas to fall over, opening batsmen to be out for a duck, and barristers to lose their train of thought during a closing argument. (Times, Independent)

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