Today's news

October 25, 2002

Cambridge denies plan to charge top-up fees
The vice-chancellor of Cambridge University yesterday sought to stop speculation that Britain's top colleges were all secretly preparing detailed plans to charge top-up fees for students. Sir Alec Broers' rare public intervention, denying that he had such a plan, came as Cambridge's student union urged alumni not to donate cash to the university as a way of marking their protest at the "privatisation" of the sector. "We would prefer not to go down the top-up fee route - it is not our preferred option, we still stand against it," said Sir Alec. "We have made no decision to introduce top-up fees at Cambridge."
(Financial Times)

Government ends education venture with Capita
The government has ended a joint venture with Capita, the listed provider, to develop a replacement for the failed £0m adult learning scheme. The National Audit Office said yesterday it could be as long as two years before the government knew how much fraud and abuse hit the scheme before it was shut down last year.
(Financial Times, Guardian, Independent, Times)

Clarke gets frontline education portfolio
Combative and forthright Clarke wins position to suit his heavyweight status. Charles Clarke and Estelle Morris are the yin and yang of British politics. Where Ms Morris is slight, quietly spoken and lacking in self-confidence, her successor is burly, forthright and in no doubt of his own worth. Ms Morris was raised on a Manchester council estate and failed her A-levels. The 52-year-old Mr Clarke, on the other hand, was the son of Sir Richard "Otto" Clarke - a senior Treasury mandarin - and attended the private Highgate School before going on to read maths and economics at Cambridge University.
(Financial Times, Independent, Guardian, Daily Telegraph, Times)

Shocked Labour MPs struggle with life after Estelle
By chance, parliamentary Questions yesterday were mainly to the education department. Estelle Morris would have presided over them. But events dictated that she be absent. Such was the length, and extravagance of Labour tributes to her, one would have thought she had been assassinated.
(Daily Telegraph, Guardian)

Officials helped to provoke downfall
Estelle Morris's civil servants were blamed yesterday for contributing to her downfall. Sir William Stubbs, who was sacked as chairman of the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority during the A-level marking dispute, said that Ms Morris had been poorly served by her advisers, Chris Boffey and D.J. Collins. "There is no doubt that she has been very badly guided by her civil servants, who failed to give her the Rolls-Royce service she deserved," he said.

Cabinet attacks media war on Morris
Leading figures in Tony' Blair's suddenly reshaped cabinet rounded on the media yesterday, accusing it of hounding a wounded Estelle Morris from office.

Headteachers mourn Morris at launch of training centre
The opening of a £28m training centre for headteachers in Nottingham yesterday had the forlorn air of a wedding to which a highly strung bride had failed to turn up.
(Financial Times)

Monster that Morris could not control
Report on the rise of the education empire
(Daily Telegraph)

Difficult decisions are looming for Clarke
Higher education is likely to provide him with the first big dilemma. The government has promised to publish its proposals on the funding of higher education before Christmas.
(Daily Telegraph)

'Lost' study links food additives to tantrums
Parents were left confused last night after a government-sponsored study appeared to show that food colourings and additives used in some 200 popular foods caused temper tantrums and hyperactivity in up to a quarter of young children. The study, commissioned three years ago by the former Ministry of Agriculture and completed last year, was discovered by food campaigners in the library of the Food Standards Agency. The Food Commission publishes the findings in Food Magazine today.
(Daily Telegraph, Guardian, Times, Daily Mail)

Electrodes cure obsessives
Two patients with obsessive compulsive disorder, which made one of them obsessively clean her house and the other check his locks for up to three hours a day, have been cured by electrodes implanted in their brain, it is reported today. The patients underwent brain surgery not because of their compulsive behaviour but to alleviate the symptoms of Parkinson's disease. Their French doctors say, in a letter to the Lancet medical journal, that two weeks after the electrodes were implanted the compulsions had gone.

Healing can be all in the mind
New studies show that, just as placebo pills can 'cure' certain conditions, pseudo surgery can be successful, too. The results of one trial, carried out in Houston, will be broadcast tomorrow night on the Discovery Channel, in Placebo: Cracking the Code .
(Daily Telegraph)

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