From today's UK papers

January 18, 2002

Reports say Labour has failed poor students
Labour's plans to get more poor students to go to university is failing, two reports by parliament's financial watchdog reveal today. The percentage of poor students at university has remained unchanged at 28 per cent - the same as seven years ago - according to an investigation by the National Audit Office. (Guardian, Independent)

A-level rift as watchdog admits grade inflation
The government's education policy was in disarray yesterday after the Department for Education and Skills sought to play down claims of a damaging rift with Downing Street over plans to introduce an A* grade to single out the brightest students. In a related move, the exam watchdog admitted that "grade inflation" was a phenomenon in A levels after revealing that it had ordered a tightening up of grade boundaries. (Guardian, Independent, Financial Times)

Blair and Bush back Fulbright study exchange
Tony Blair and George W. Bush will today back transatlantic exchanges of scholars as a way of increasing cultural understanding after the September 11 terrorist attacks. The prime minister and the US president have both agreed personally to back the work of the US-UK Fulbright Commission. (Financial Times)

Making our universities better by degrees
Comment: too many students go to inadequate institutions in pursuit of valueless degrees. (Times)

Top 1% earns as much as the poorest 57%
The world's richest 50 million people earn as much as the poorest 2.7 billion and may soon be forced to live in heavily protected gated communities to escape the resentment of the billions living below the poverty line, a senior World Bank economist warns in the Economic Journal today. (Guardian)

Virus in wild African chimps could unlock Aids
Scientists from the University of Alabama have detected a close relative of HIV in a wild chimpanzee, raising the prospect that virologists may soon discover the source of the virus. A few chimps kept in captivity have tested positive for the nearest simian relative of HIV. Finding the SIV virus in wild animals supports the growing belief that HIV jumped from chimpanzee to man in the mid 20th century. (Financial Times)

Vivid insight into workings of the brain
One of the last unexplored frontiers left on earth, the living human brain, is yielding up its secrets to a new tool developed at the Institute of Psychology, King's College London. It allows researchers to see with extraordinary clarity the network of nerve fibres - "white matter" - that links the different, thinking units of the brain, or "grey matter". (Guardian)

Milk from 'spider goat' to create wonder web
Scientists from Nexia Biotechnologies, Montreal, have found a way to mimic spider's silk and spin it in industrial quantities by genetically engineering spider genes into a herd of goats. Spider silk is five times stronger than steel and far more elastic than rubber. (Guardian, Daily Telegraph, Independent)

Self-frying chip may foil mobile thieves
Scientists from the University of California could have the ultimate answer to the great stolen cellphone problem - or the lost laptop laden with state secrets, or the spy camera that may have seen too much. Each could be fitted with a chip designed to explode the second it receives a signal from the rightful owner. (Guardian)

Lecturer caught in video trap
Sheffield Hallam University is considering the future of a lecturer after he was fined £300 by magistrates for vandalising a BMW car. Roderick Apps, 59, who works at the university's School of Business, told police that the parked car represented a danger to pedestrians. (Times)

US student wins right to show 'straight pride'
A judge yesterday upheld the right of a US teenager to wear a T-shirt with a slogan proclaiming that he was proud to be hetreosexual. Elliot Chambers, a student at a school in St Paul, Minnesota, a city known for its liberal policies, had the words "Straight Pride" on his shirt along with a drawing of a stick man and woman holding hands. (Daily Telegraph) 

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