The Week in Higher Education

April 10, 2008

- As the London mayoral race warmed up with reports of Tory candidate and former Shadow Higher Education Minister Boris Johnson's encounters with drugs as a student at Oxford, and coverage of the fact that Labour incumbent Ken Livingstone has five children with three different mothers, Liberal Democrat candidate Brian Paddick garnered some less lurid headlines. He promised free travel on London Underground and on buses for all full-time students. "The way up the social ladder is education," he was quoted as saying in the The London Paper on 4 April.

- "Life on the dole is better for students than temping," the Daily Mail reported on 5 April. It reported findings from the University of Ulster that under-employed graduates suffer with higher levels of mental health problems compared with those who are unemployed.

- Also on 5 April, The Independent reported the widely predicted drop in state school student entrants to the University of Cambridge, for the second year running. There was a one percentage point fall in numbers joining in October 2007, to 55 per cent, compared with 2006.

- Last week's report on rising numbers of students under the age of 18 (to almost 8,000) was followed up by the News of the World in its own unique style on 6 April. The paper reported on the progress of former child prodigy Sufiah Yusof, who went to the University of Oxford to study maths at the age of 13. She now calls herself "an escort", who, according to the News of the World, "drives men wild by reciting equations to her clients as they have sex".

"The Asian beauty defiantly claims that selling her body for up to £1,000 a time provides her with a far more glamorous life than she ever dreamt of when she went to Oxford University aged just 13," the paper said, illustrating the article with a series of pictures of Ms Yusof in her underwear.

- Two men in the United States are pursuing a lawsuit that seeks to block scientists at Cern, the European centre for nuclear research in Geneva, Switzerland, from using the $8 billion (£4.04 billion) Large Hadron Collider, The New York Times reported on 6 April. The collider "will begin smashing protons together this summer to study the origins of matter, but the lawsuit contends the work might create a black hole that could devour the earth - and maybe the universe", the paper said. The lawsuit has been filed in a US federal court in Honolulu, Hawaii, and seeks a restraining order until Cern has produced a safety report and an environmental assessment.

- "More children now say they want to go to university than ever before, but there is still a 23 percentage point gap between the proportion of the wealthiest children who aspire to a university education and their poorest classmates," The Guardian reported on 7 April. The paper had seen a yet to be published study by the British Market Research Bureau examining pupils' attitudes to higher education.

- Universities Secretary John Denham's seat in Parliament could be under serious risk at the next election, The Times reported on 8 April. His constituency of Southampton Itchen has been named by credit reference agency Experian as a "hot spot" for negative equity and house repossessions, suggesting that constituents may not be keen to re-elect their Labour candidate.

- Surrey Satellite Technology, the winner of Times Higher Education's inaugural Outstanding Contribution to Innovation and Technology Award, has been sold by the University of Surrey, The Guardian reported on 8 April. In "one of the largest cash spin-outs from a British university", the company has been bought by aerospace company EADS for an estimated figure of between £40 million and £50 million.

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