Today's news

October 15, 2002

London super-university on the cards
Imperial College, London, and University College London, two of the “jewels in the crown” of the British academic world, announced that they were in merger talks yesterday, in a move that would create a new “super-university” and potentially the richest research institution in the UK. (The Daily Telegraph, The Financial Times, The Guardian, The Independent, The Times)

A-level upgrades for 1,200 students
Hundreds of students will today enter the frantic race for new places on university courses, with an independent inquiry expected to confirm that about 1,200 have had their A-level results upgraded after the scandal of  “grade fixing”. (The Daily Mail, The Daily Telegraph, The Guardian, The Independent, The Times)

Exam chiefs: pressure was on to lower grades
Two exam board chiefs have claimed that they did feel under pressure to lower A-level grades. John Kerr and Ron McLone said it had been applied by Sir William Stubbs, then chairman of the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority. (The Daily Mail)

Reflection of success
A levels remain valuable in predicting a student’s degree performance. (The Guardian)

Scientists call for list of life
The world urgently needs a comprehensive inventory of all living things, comparable to the astronomers’ catalogue of the stars, to help halt biodiversity loss, said Lord May, president of the Royal Society, and John Lawton, chief executive of the Natural Environment Research Council. (The Financial Times, The Independent)

Biological clock ticks for men, too
The biological clock is ticking not just for women in their 30s. Men of a similar age also need to worry about declining fertility, say researchers from the University of Washington, US. The scientists have discovered that genetic damage to sperm starts to cause infertility in men as young as 35. The findings are to be presented at the American Society of Reproductive Medicine’s annual conference in Seattle, Washington. (The Daily Mail, The Guardian, The Independent, The Times)

Dolly creator dismisses human cloning fears
Ian Wilmut, the scientist who cloned Dolly the sheep and who hopes to produce the first cloned human embryos in Britain, denied yesterday that his research would make it easier for unscrupulous doctors to clone babies. (The Daily Telegraph)

Degree loses kudos
The payoff from having a degree is declining, with more and more graduates overqualified for the jobs they do. Malcolm Brynin of Essex University, writing in the Institute for Social and Economic Research Journal , says the demand for graduates is related to the quest to reduce labour costs as much as it is to high-tech productivity. (The Guardian)

Chasing the cutters and pasters
An advisory service has been launched under the auspices of the Joint Information Systems Committee to track academic cheats amid reports that plagiarism is engulfing the UK. (The Guardian)

Spin-off doctors
Why are Scottish universities so far ahead when it comes to cashing in on innovations? (The Guardian)

Charge ahead
Top-up fees are a way to break stereotypes and to undermine league tables, argues Richard Brown, chief executive of the Council for Industry and Higher Education. (The Guardian)

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