From today's UK papers

December 18, 2001

Higher education target 'fiddled'
Liberal Democrats have accused the government of planning to inflate higher education figures as part of an attempt to meet its target of 50 per cent of young people going on to higher education. The government had promised to meet the 50 per cent target by 2010. (Guardian)

Disabled rights may be extended to 40,000
The official definition of disability may be widened to include those newly diagnosed with cancer and HIV, qualifying tens of thousands more people for benefits and new rights. (Guardian)

Truce reached over funding
Grants next year will be based on the RAE but with a cap on extra money. (Guardian)

Going it alone
Universities are likely to seek out private income in future, rather than relying on government money through the research assessment exercise. (Guardian)

Researchers play down CJD link to polio vaccine
Health advisers last night urged parents to continue having their children vaccinated against polio despite finding that two teenagers who developed the human form of BSE had been inoculated from the same batch of oral polio vaccine seven years ago. (Guardian, Independent, Daily Telegraph, Times)

£60m talent academy will go to Warwick
Warwick University has been chosen by the government to establish Britain's first academy for gifted children. University sources confirmed that the Midlands institution, often praised by Tony Blair for its links with business and industry, had beaten competition from Oxford to win the £60 million contract. (Times)

WHO accuses drugs group of interference
A senior World Health Organisation official has attacked growing interference by pharmaceutical companies in the conduct of clinical trials and the pubication of their results. Dr Jonathan Quick, director of essential drugs and medicines policy at WHO, said reliability trials were increasingly imperilled by conflicts of interest, "inapropriate involvement" of sponsors in trial design and bias in publishing the results. (Financial Times)

Vital climate research destroyed by fire
A fire at a British research laboratory in the Antarctic has dealt a significant blow to research into the world's understanding of climate change. An electrical fault was identified as the most likely cause of the blaze that destroyed the £2m laboratory at the Rothera Station in September. (Independent)

Space experiment team end dream job
Being paid to lie in bed may sound like a layabout's dream, but yesterday scientists praised the "high motivation" of 14 men who spent three months lying on their backs in the name of space exploration. The 14 volunteers, aged between 29 and 41, completed a three-month experiment in Toulouse, France, into the effects of weightlessness on astronauts spending long periods in orbit in a future international space station. (Independent)

Microbe with a whip is our common ancestor
Without the help of fossils, scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have identified what they believe represents a common ancestor of all animals on Earth: single-celled microbes that propel themselves with whip-like appendages. (Daily Telegraph)

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