Today's news

October 31, 2002

Ministers delay higher education review
Charles Clarke, the new secretary of state for education, announced yesterday that a long-awaited review of higher education funding would be delayed to allow him time to settle in to the job. The paper, which was expected to be published next month, is said to propose controversial options including top-up fees, a graduate tax and across-the-board rises in tuition fees. Mr Clarke announced the delay last night, a few hours after making his first speech since replacing Estelle Morris last week. In the Commons yesterday, Tony Blair refused to rule out top-up fees while he was prime minister, opening the way for moves to allow elite universities to set their own charges after the next general election. Asked repeatedly to confirm that he would not introduce proposals to allow universities to charge up to £6,000 a year, Mr Blair insisted that he stood by Labour's manifesto pledge not to introduce top-up fees.
(Independent, Daily Telegraph, Guardian)

Culture minister gives Turner prize bottom marks
The blunt language may lack the erudition of Britain's finest art critics, but the review wins full marks for stridency. Kim Howells, the outspoken culture minister, has condemned the four entries shortlisted for this year's Turner prize as "cold, mechanical, conceptual bull****". Angered by the standards of this year's contenders, which include a grunt-by-grunt transcription of an American porn film, Mr Howells has pegged an expletive-laden comment card to the wall at Tate Britain where the Turner exhibition is being held.
(Guardian, Financial Times)

Why the university merger won't work
Alan Ryan, warden of New College, Oxford, comments on the proposed merger of Imperial College and University Colleges London.
(Independent)

Book prize for guerrilla who went to Cambridge
A former guerrilla from a Burmese hill tribe who fled to Britain and graduated from Cambridge was yesterday named winner of a literary award. From the Land of Green Ghosts, the memoirs of Pascal Khoo Thwe, won the non-fiction section of the 2002 Kiriyama Prize, netting him nearly £20,000.
(Daily Telegraph)

Chinese dig up relics from 'majestic' town of 6000BC
Chinese state media reported yesterday the discovery of a community of 150 buildings south of the Mongolian border. The primitive settlement near Chifeng is the largest and best-preserved such site found in China, according to archaeologists and is thought to be more than 8,000 years old.
(Times)

Dynamo from Down Under
Brunel University has a new vice-chancellor who is determined to improve its performance, to push it up the league tables and to rebuild it by 2006.
(Independent)

'Oldest' star gives clues to birth of universe
A newly identified star in the southern Milky Way that may be the oldest ever found will provide clues to what the universe was made of shortly after the Big Bang. The star is approximately 36,000 light years from Earth and about 10,000 times fainter than the faintest stars that can be seen with the unaided eye. Called "HE 0107-5240", the stellar relic of an ancient cosmos is described today by a team from Germany, Sweden, Australia, Brazil and America in the journal Nature.
(Daily Telegraph)

£29m appeal to save Raphael
The National Gallery announced an emergency appeal for £29 million last night in an attempt to save one of the finest paintings in its collection from being sold to America's Getty Museum. Raphael's Madonna of the Pinks is owned by the Duke of Northumberland but has been on indefinite loan to the National Gallery for a decade. But it learned from America yesterday that the present duke's trustees had quietly agreed to sell the picture, in a deal arranged by Sotheby's, to the Getty Museum in California for £29 million.
(Daily Telegraph, Times, Guardian)

Does the baccalaureate beat A-levels?
Many British pupils already choose the International Baccalaureate for its breadth and flexibility.
(Independent)

30,000-year-old woolly rhino resurfaces
Archaeologists have unearthed a remarkable snapshot of Ice Age Britain, including the near-complete skeleton of a woolly rhino, at Whitemoor Haye, Staffordshire. It consists of the skeleton of one rhino and three other rhino skulls, complete with teeth. All are said to be between 30,000 and 50,000 years old. Fragments of bone from mammoth, bison, reindeer, wild horse and wolf were also found at the same spot as well as some superbly preserved ancient plants and beetles.
(Daily Telegraph, Independent, Daily Mail, Times, Guardian)

World's population of migrants hits 175m
The number of migrants in the world has more than doubled in the past 25 years and is set to continue rising, according to the United Nations. It says that 175 million people live outside their country of birth, amounting to almost one in 30 of the world population. The majority live in the developed world, a report by the UN Population Division says.
(Times)

Former Australian Academy of Science president dies, aged 85
Sir Geoffrey Badger, who has died at Adelaide aged 85, was a scientist, university vice-chancellor and president of Australia's Academy of Science; later he became more widely known for his work on the history of navigation and early exploration of the Pacific.
(Daily Telegraph)

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