From today's UK papers

March 21, 2002

University standards reports to be scrapped
Parents and students will no longer be able to compare the quality of universities or degree courses because the inspection system on which the comparisons are based is too "burdensome", Margaret Hodge, the higher education minister, announced yesterday. Subject-by-subject inspections are to be scrapped immediately and replaced by a new process of "institutional audit". (Daily Telegraph

Prosperous Southeast asks for more
Wages in central and inner London are now 54 per cent higher than in Tyneside, the West Midlands and the Northwest, according to research commissioned by county councils in the Southeast bidding for higher grants to compensate them for spiralling wage costs. (Guardian)

Jobless total nears record lows
A surprise fall in the number of people claiming unemployment benefit in February means all the job losses in Britain's economy since September 11 have now been reversed, official figures showed yesterday. (Guardian)

Kidnapped guard was a 21-year-old student
The security officer who was kidnapped after being left to guard $3.2 million (£2.25 million) at Heathrow airport was a 21-year-old student who works part-time to pay for his studies. (Times)

School angry at TV's student imposter
A fly-on-the-wall TV documentary has backfired after Channel 4 admitted yesterday that it had deceived a school by passing off a 30-year-old producer as a sixth former for eight weeks. The headmaster of Kingdown Community School in Warminster, Wiltshire, ordered the film-makers off the premises once the deception was revealed. (Guardian, Independent, Times, Daily Telegraph)

Website removes creationist lecture
A lecture by the teacher at the heart of the row about teaching creationism in schools has been removed from a website because it was attracting too much interest. Colin Hart, the director of the Christian Institute, said the lecture by Stephen Layfield of Emmanuel College, Gateshead, had been pulled from the institute's website because of the misreporting of the teacher's views in the media. (Independent)

Press did not breach code in teacher case
The press complaints commission has ruled that payment offers to the families of child witnesses in the case of a teacher accused of indecency were not a breach of its conduct code. Rules had not been broken because the approaches in the trial of Amy Gehring were to parents, not children, and were made after the boys had finished giving their evidence. (Guardian)

Oetzi the Iceman was stabbed in the back
Scientists have discovered that Oetzi the Iceman, the world's oldest and best preserved mummy, was engaged in hand-to-hand combat shortly before perishing in the Alps 5,300 years ago. Two wounds to his right hand and wrist show he was stabbed while trying to defend himself with a dagger against an attacker. (Guardian)

Oldest, smallest dinosaur unearthed in China
An adult dinosaur the size of a dog and a juvenile no bigger than a hare have been unearthed by scientists who believe they have found the smallest, oldest and most primitive member of its type. Palaeontologists from the Chinese Academy of Sciences and The Field Museum, Chicago found the two partial skeletons in a fossil bed in China. (Independent, Times)

Scientists grow fish fingers in a dish
Scientists from Toura College, New York, have made chunks of flesh grow bigger in a vat of nutrient-rich liquid, raising the prospect of producing meat in industrial quantities from the muscle cells of animals or fish. Researchers in the United States found that pieces of fish immersed in liquid extracted from the blood of unborn calves grew by 14 per cent in a week. (Independent, Times)

Bionic zoom lens could replace reading glasses
An artificial eye muscle that corrects long sight by squeezing the eyeball is being developed by scientists at the University of New Mexico. A long-sighted person fitted with the "bionic eye" would be able to throw away reading glasses or bifocals and instead flick a switch behind an ear to read a book or newspaper, adjusting the focus in similar fashion to the zoom lens of a camera. It could be available within five years. (Times: from the New Scientist)

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