Today's news

November 12, 2002

Inventors get more cash to plug brain drain
Nesta, the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts, has been given a grant of £95 million by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. The cash will go towards halting the brain drain of British ideas by offering financial support for creative minds seeking to exploit their ideas in this country. The announcement of the grant yesterday came as Nesta unveiled research showing that creative people in Britain felt that they were not valued by society and were also viewed as eccentrics, loners and even subversives. The survey found that one in six of Nesta award-winners felt that they were not taken seriously by funders as potential drivers of the economy. The new money, which is subject to parliamentary approval, will be used to top up the £200 million endowment Nesta received in 1998 to provide project grants.

Colleges really are doing something right
A resounding vote of confidence in further education colleges has just emerged from the Learning and Skills Council's first national survey of "learner satisfaction". The research shows that more than 90 per cent of learners interviewed are satisfied with the education and training they get in colleges and the workplace. And nearly nine out of 10 people who left school with negative attitudes say that has been reversed.

Turning the tide of campus racism
Lord Filkin, minister for race and community relations at the Home Office, last night unveiled the striking image of a ripped-up Union Jack reconfigured as a swastika. He launched an advertising campaign by the National Union of Students to confront what it claims is the growing problem of racism on university campuses.

IBM chief digs up new challenge
Having been credited with turning round IBM, the American computer leviathan, the newly retired Lou Gerstner, 60, is planning to become a student at Cambridge University. The sixth highest earning chief executive in the world is spurning the delights of pipe and slippers to go back to the classroom to study Chinese history and archaeology.

Loan offer for Elgin Marbles rejected
The Greek minister of culture went to the British Museum yesterday seeking the return of the Elgin Marbles. The proposal, which was turned down flat, was made during an hour-long meeting with the director and chairman of the museum. The museum has always argued that the marbles were legally acquired by Lord Elgin, the British ambassador. Greece is building a £55 million Acropolis Museum crowned with an upper glass gallery called the Parthenon Hall, which will remain empty until the 176-yard frieze has been restored to its original home.
(Times, Daily Telegraph, Independent)

Light Brigade letters describe horror of charge
The bloody reality of the heroic but futile charge of the Light Brigade by British cavalry during the Crimean war is graphically described by two letters that are to go on display in London. Both letters relate to the death of Capt Thomas Howard Goad in the charge at the Battle of Balaclava and, by a coincidence, have recently been acquired separately by the British Library.
(Daily Telegraph)

Wine halves risk of dementia
Drinking a glass of wine once a week may protect against Alzheimer's disease in old age, according to a study published today. Danish researchers have found that people who drink wine occasionally were half as likely to develop dementia. The team believe that flavonoids, the natural antioxidants found in wine, may have a beneficial effect on the brain. The study, published in the journal Neurology , found that those who drank wine every day had the same risk of developing dementia. But weekly or monthly wine consumption lowered it.
(Daily Telegraph)

Mothers can learn if their girls will become tomboys
Sceintists can predict whether young girls will be tomboys by measuring the levels of testosterone in their mothers' blood during pregnancy. Researchers at City of London and Bristol universities found that mothers of girls aged three and a half who were extremely feminine in their behaviour had the lowest levels of testosterone in their blood during pregnancy. Mothers of girls who were extremely masculine in behaviour had the highest levels. Boys were also tested, but the mother’s testosterone levels appeared not to relate to their behaviour.

Licence to work
New City & Guilds qualifications aim to better equip university students for the workplace. A Higher Professional Diploma (HPD) and a Master Professional Diploma (MPD) are to be unveiled this week by the Universities Vocational Awarding Council, a group of 40 or so higher education institutions united in the belief that universities must not only offer students rounded educations but also help them to become employable.

Marriage with seemingly few impediments
London Metropolitan University, formed in August from a merger between the universities of North London and London Guildhall, is using an advertising onslaught to help it stand out. While other high-profile university mergers are being talked about, London Metropolitan has gone ahead and done it.

Oxford row over land sale
The knives are out at Ruskin College, Oxford over its proposed move to a new site.

Paying for tuition: all will be revealed
American universities need armies of staff to investigate how much students can afford to pay towards their education. Would top-up fees bring the same level of scrutiny to Britain?

Students find the Army's Awol tank
An inflatable £10,000 decoy tank that went missing during last month's gales has been found two miles away from its base across the Welsh hills by students from Leeds University Officer Training Corps. The tank, which is the size of three cars, was sent cartwheeling across the Brecon Beacons by the winds during an army training exercise.
(Times, Guardian, Daily Telegraph)

Pioneering neutron physicist dies
Sir William Mitchell, the pioneering physicist who perfected neutron scattering and worked tirelessly for European scientific cooperation, has died aged 77.

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