Today's news

November 5, 2002

Dispute will shut colleges for first time in a decade
A strike by lecturers and administrative staff today will close some colleges for the first time in ten years and disrupt many more. The one-day strike in protest at a 2.3 per cent pay offer is the first in a series of stoppages that will hit schools, colleges and universities in November. It will be an important test of Charles Clarke's relations with the trade unions as the new secretary of state. More than 300 further education colleges will be disrupted throughout the country. Today's strike will be followed by a walkout of university staff on 14 November in protest at the freezing of their London weighting allowance for more than a decade. More disruption will follow on 26 November when schools are likely to be closed because of a one-day stoppage by the National Union of Teachers and the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers. (Independent, Guardian, Daily Mail)

Academics hail success of dyslexia treatment
A revolutionary exercise programme for children and adults with dyslexia and similar learning difficulties was hailed as a major breakthrough last night as academics said the therapy was working. David Reynolds of Exeter University and Rod Nicolson of Sheffield University, who monitored the progress of 35 children in the West Midlands, said those who had undergone the treatment showed "significantly greater improvements" than others in dexterity, reading and verbal fluency. Government advisers will now be under pressure to examine the apparent benefits of the treatment, which advocates say does not interfere with attempts to improve reading skills in the classroom.
(Guardian, Daily Mail)

All in the mind for gay rams
Scientists studying a flock of homosexual sheep have discovered a region of the brain that could explain their sexual preferences. The area of the brain is smaller in gay rams than in heterosexual sheep and may be the result of exposure to hormones in the womb. The gay rams were studied at the US Sheep Experiment Station in Dubois, Idaho.
(Daily Telegraph)

New courses tackle alien life and e-study
Extraterrestrial life, and the evidence (or not) for its existence, is the big topic tackled by a new Open University second-level undergraduate course - Planetary Science and the Search for Life - which draws on the expertise of scientists working in astronomy, geology, physics and chemistry. Back on earth, a new global course, Learning in the Connected Economy, is being launched next February by the OU in partnership with the University of Cambridge.

Taking the pejorative out of 'intellectual' and 'academic'
"In a soundbite culture, we must rally to the defence of intellectual debate," Brenda Gourley, vice-chancellor of the Open University, says.

Shed a little light
Colleges can now see better than ever just how their Beacon peers do it.

New year resolution
Does the second delay of the higher education funding review signal a rethink over top-up fees?

Language barriers - dumbing down
The decline in numbers of modern language students is closing university departments and frustrating employers. Even the Foreign Office is worried.

Young ambassadors
Universities do much to lessen the culture shock for students going abroad.

Silence falls
Half of the world's languages may have disappeared by the end of the century. Experts are trying to save them.

Swimming or sinking?
Is the new A-level system dangerously out of its depth? It depends whether you're looking from the safety of the shallows.

85-year marriage is record
A Taiwanese couple who married in April 1917 were accepted as the world's longest-married couple by the Guinness Book of Records yesterday. Liu Yung-yang, 103, and his wife, Yang Wan, 102, celebrated at their home yesterday with about 40 of their 110 blood relations.
(Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph)

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