From today's UK papers

March 29, 2002

Debt worries force students to opt for OU
More young people are choosing to study at the Open University rather than traditional universities because of fear of debt. One in 12 people at the OU, once seen as the preserve of older students, is 24 or younger, compared with one in 20 in 1996-97. (Times)

Morris acts against parents of unruly pupils
Parents whose children persistently misbehave in school will ordered to attend counselling sessions or risk a £1,000 fine, education secretary Estelle Morris announced yesterday. (Guardian, Times, Financial Times, Independent)

Top economists claim degrees are easier
Standards have fallen at British universities, with the best degrees now easier to achieve than 20 years ago. But standards have remained roughly constant since a dramatic slump in the 1980s, according to research presented to the Royal Economic Society's annual conference. (Independent)

Massive backing for AS exam reforms
Teachers said yesterday that AS levels were in need of radical change to restore the morale of teachers and pupils. Delegates at the Association of Teachers and Lecturers' conference in Cardiff voted overwhelmingly in favour of changing the courses, which were introduced to broaden the range of subjects studied by sixth formers. (Times, Financial Times)

Irritation at Monks naming successor
John Monks is at risk of a backlash after his unexpected announcement that he intends to step down as general secretary of the TUC led to suggestions he was attempting to "shoo-in" his deputy, Brendan Barber, to the top job. A number of union officials complained yesterday that Mr Monks was in danger of taking their support for granted for his being succeeded by his lieutenant. (Guardian)

Lecturer's body blow costs £30,000
An unemployed universty lecturer has taken a hammer to a controversial exhibition of preserved corpses, causing £30,000 worth of damage, because the bodies made him feel sick. Geoff Lee, 51, from Dalston, East London, smuggled a hammer into the Body Worlds show, which opened at London's Atlantis gallery last week, and began smashing an exhibit called the Organ Donor - a skinned man carrying a liver. (Guardian, Times)

British Museum sold precious bronzes
Pressure on the British Museum to return disputed treasures in its collection grew last night after it admitted selling 30 pieces of Benin bronze in the 1950s and 1960s. The museum insisted that its claim to inalienable ownership of the bronzes and other artefacts such as the Parthenon (Elgin) marbles was not affected. Guardian

Scientists crack mystery of the spinning egg
The mystery of the "magic egg", the parlour trick in which a hard-boiled egg defies gravity when spun on its side, has been solved. The strange phenomenon, has always puzzled scientists because the egg's centre of gravity moves away from the ground, in apparent disregard for the laws of physics. The answer has been found by scientists Keith Moffat (University of Cambridge), and Yutaka Shimomura (Keio University, Yokohama, Japan), who have identified the key as the weak friction between the egg and the table on which it spins. (Times)

Car crashes worse for fat people
Fat and heavy people are much more likely than their slimmer peers to be killed or seriously injured if involved in a car crash. American scientists from Seattle, who analysed car accidents involving more than 26,000 people, discovered that obese people are more than twice as likely to die in them as those who are underweight. (Times)

Irradiation takes wind out of beans
The embarrassing curse of the baked bean is close to being exorcised. Indian scientists have developed the world's first flatulence-free beans by bombarding them with radiation. Research shows that gamma rays can destroy most of the chemicals in beans that make people break wind, paving the way for a bean that can be enjoyed without the familiar gassy consequences. (Times)

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