Today's news

October 1, 2002

Independent schools accuse top universities of bias
Head teachers at leading private schools who triggered this year's crisis concerning exam grades yesterday moved to attack universities that ignored A-level results in favour of "social engineering". The attack, backed up by a survey of offers made to their pupils by top universities, strikes at the heart of the way vice-chancellors are meeting the government's pledge to widen social access to higher education. Ed Gould, master of Marlborough College, who led the attack on A-level grade "fixing", said he had no argument with the wider access policy but it should not be achieved by "crude tampering" to reach targets "by the back door".
( Financial Times, Guardian, Independent, Times, Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail )

Officials set figures on A-level regrading
Officials from the exam boards and their regulator, the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, yesterday met Mike Tomlinson, the head of the A-level "fixing" inquiry, to hammer out how many students' papers will need to be regraded. Last night it was still unclear whether students would be put in the picture today. The final figure, expected to be in the thousands, may not be known until later this week.
( Guardian, Daily Mail )

Controversial university building project unveiled

A £190 million private finance initiative (PFI) was announced today by the University of Hertfordshire. The new campus at Hatfield is the largest development to be built from scratch in the sector for 50 years, said pro-vice-chancellor Tim Wilson, who urged other universities to generate funding in this way. Unison, the public services union with 60,000 members in higher education institutions, is strongly opposed to the project and has called for a moratorium on PFIs while their real value for money is investigated.
( Guardian )

Academic workforce getting older

Roderick Floud, president of Universities UK and vice-chancellor of London Metropolitan University, argues that as higher education expands, the government must act now to secure teachers and researchers for the future.
( Guardian )

Weed gives hope of cancer cure

A poisonous plant that has been used as a folk medicine and hallucinogen for centuries might provide new treatments for brain cancer. A molecule found in jimson weed has been found to "almost completely" halt growth of malignant glioma cells, scientists from Tokyo's Metropolitan Institute of Gerontology said.
( Guardian )

Young men head abroad amid ageing population
Young people are quitting the country to spend time abroad, according to the 2001 census. Meanwhile, the overall population is getting older, with over-60s outnumbered for the first time, according to Office for National Statistics figures released yesterday. The number of over-85s has increased five-fold to 1.1 million since 1951. On the day of the census, the population was 58,789,194 - 1 million lower than the last published estimate for 2000.
( Financial Times, Guardian, Independent, Times, Daily Telegraph )

Fragment set to reignite row over Marbles

A fragment of the Parthenon frieze kept by an 18th-century British diplomat in Sicily is to be returned to Greece by the Italian government. It is a gesture that is certain to revive the dispute over Britain's retention of the Elgin Marbles.
( Times )

Nursing education pioneer dies

Winifred Hector, prime mover in the establishment of the first nursing degree course in Britain in the late 1960s, has died aged 92.
( Guardian )

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