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February 12, 2002

Grants reinstated for Welsh students
Student grants are to be reintroduced in Wales from September, education minister Jane Davidson will announce to the Welsh Assembly today. Students in higher and further education will be entitled to up to £1,500 a year if their parents' income is less than £15,000 a year. Only students who have lived in Wales for at least three years will be entitled to the money but it will be paid to them if they study outside Wales. Student loans will still be available. Different levels of grant will be paid to full and part-time students and there will be supplementary cash for mature students and those facing childcare costs.

Vocational GCSEs proposed for 40,000
14-year-olds will be able to follow new vocational GCSE courses in subjects including health, leisure and tourism and engineering from this September under proposals due to be outlined in a green paper by education secretary Estelle Morris today. This year £38 million has been earmarked for work placements for up to 40,000 14 to 16-year-olds, enabling them to spend one day a week at a further education college or training provider.

Scottish exam body shake-up reviewed
Members of a powerful Holyrood committee begin their inquiry today into the Scottish Executive's plans for a radical shake-up of the body which organises exams north of the border. The education, culture and sport committee is taking evidence from college chiefs, students and teachers' representatives concerning their views on the Scottish Qualifications Authority Bill. Deputy education minister Nicol Stephen said the bill should ensure there is never a repeat of the 2000 exams crisis, when thousands of students received inaccurate or incomplete results.

The depressing reality of anti-depressants
Patients are being given "misleading advice" on the safety of anti-depressants including a possible risk of increased suicidal behaviour, the journal Health Which? warned today. Joanna Moncrieff, senior lecturer at University College London's department of psychiatry and behavioural sciences, told the journal she had found that a difference in response rates between anti-depressants and a placebo may be just 10 per cent.

Prehistoric vomit unlocks Jurassic diet
Geologists claim the discovery of 160 million-year-old dinosaur vomit has unlocked fascinating new secrets about what the giants of the Jurassic age ate. Peter Doyle of the University of Greenwich, who discovered the pre-historic vomit in a clay quarry in Peterborough, has revealed that huge marine reptiles enjoyed a diet of squid-like shellfish.

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