Today's news

October 3, 2002

Universities fear vast numbers affected in A-level regrading
Universities are growing increasingly frustrated that despite two reports into the A-level grading row no one can tell them how many students have been unfairly denied places. The university authorities expressed dismay yesterday that there was still no clear idea of the full extent of the problem. Students who qualify for a regrade are expected to be informed by the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service, the organisation that administers university applications. Those whose grades improve enough to qualify for the offer of a university place that had been missed before will also be told who to contact if they wish to take up the original offer.
( Times )

Inquiry chief widens scale of A-level review
Tens of thousands of students will have their A-level grades reviewed after the independent inquiry into this year's results found problems were far worse than it had initially forecast. Mike Tomlinson, heading the inquiry, said there were good reasons to examine grades awarded in units of the new two-tier A-levels in about 26 subjects - not the 12 he predicted last week. New exam panels will review more than 300,000 exam "modules" administered principally by the Oxford and Cambridge and RSA board - but with a few from Edexcel and the Assessment and Qualifications Authority.
( Financial Times, Daily Mail, Times, Guardian, Daily Telegraph, Independent )

Chaos of exams 'not fault of board'


The exam board executive who found himself at the centre of the A-level marking insisted yesterday he had done nothing wrong or unusual in setting grade boundaries for this year's papers. But in his first interview since the furore began more than a fortnight ago, Ron McLone, chief executive of the Oxford, Cambrige and RSA Board (OCR), threw light on the chaos surrounding the introduction of the A-level curriculum two years ago. Neither the government nor the regulator, the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, had explained how much harder the second part of the new A level (the A2 exam) should be compared with the AS level. The boards thought that the A2 should be marked more critically.
( Guardian )

A-level debacle will not deflect us from education reform, says Morris

Estelle Morris, the embattled education secretary, yesterday attempted to put the A-level fiasco behind her by placing herself in the vanguard of Tony Blair's public service reforms. She apologised for the A-level debacle, saying "we must make sure this never happens again", but made clear that this would not distract the government from pushing ahead with its reform programme. "I have made my choice, I have chosen ambition and reform over caution and settling for second best, " she said.
( Financial Times )

Gene breakthrough could cure malaria


Scientists say they have cracked the genetic code of both the mosquito and the tiny parasite it carries that causes malaria. The findings are the result of a massive international effort involving more than 250 researchers in ten countries, led by the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Cambridgeshire and the Institute for Genomic Research and Stanford University in America. They are published today in Nature and Science .
( Daily Mail, Times, Financial Times, Guardian, Daily Telegraph, Independent )

Bedbugs bite back in Britain

A report in today's News Scientist magazine reveals that there has been a huge leap in bedbug infestations in recent years. The number reported to local councils has more than quadrupled each year for the past five years. The Medical Entomology Centre at Cambridge believes one reason for the bugs' resurgence is the massive increase in travel to countries where they remain a problem. The explosion in cases is also being aided by the growing popularity of car boot sales and central heating in the home.
( Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph, Independent )

Despite the feminists, wives feel wedded bliss


Marriage makes both sexes happy, according to an Australian psychologist from La Trobe University, Melbourne. His research overturns studies that suggested that wives suffered while husbands thrived. The study lends weight to a growing feeling among scientists that earlier studies were either wrong or biased by the women's liberation movement, or that women have become happier within marriage in the past 30 years.
( Daily Telegraph )

Breast cancer study finds self-examination is useless

Hope that regular self-examination of the breasts might protect women against dying from breast cancer was finally extinguished yesterday by a huge study that demonstrated it was useless. Findings from the 11-year survey of 266,000 women in Shanghai were published in the US Journal of the National Cancer Institute .
( Independent )

Robots advancing on the lawns of the world


Sales of domestic robots that mow the lawn, vacuum the carpet or clean the windows are expected to explode in the next three years, according to the latest world robotics survey published today by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe and the Stockholm-based International Federation of Robotics.
( Financial Times )

Sleuth promises to solve riddle of lost Van Eyck


An anonymous Belgian art detective is promising to solve one of the world's great art mysteries tomorrow by revealing the whereabouts of a 15th-century Flemish masterpiece stolen in 1934. The amateur sleuth, who identifies himself only as D.U.A., has tantalised Belgium over the past week with internet claims that he has solved the enigma. The target of the hunt is a panel from the Adoration of the Lamb , the huge altarpiece in the Saint Bavon Cathedral in Ghent.
( Times )

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