Today's news

January 15, 2003

Brown funding fear may delay university reform
Gordon Brown has intervened over plans for a new system of higher education funding, insisting that extra resources must be matched by far-reaching reform of the universities. His demands mean that next week's education white paper may now only set out options on which no final decision will be taken until after the general election. The chancellor believes that talk of a crisis in higher education is overblown. Aides say that next week's announcement will show that he has already earmarked generous cash injections for the years up to 2006.

Applications system condemned as lottery
Private school head teachers and university admissions tutors have condemned ministers for devaluing examination grades and turning the university applications process into a "lottery".

French pupils told school is boring
French schoolchildren who are weary of their country's rigorous education system were told yesterday that school was not supposed to be fun and that they should not confuse it with entertainment. Luc Ferry, the minister for youth, national education and research, made his points as experts and bureaucrats met to address an epidemic of boredom that is said to be afflicting France's centrally controlled school system.

Scientific mission to comet called off
The European space programme suffered another blow last night when it was forced to cancel its flagship scientific mission - a €1 billion (£640 million) attempt to land a spacecraft on comet Wirtanen because of lingering concerns about the reliability of the Ariane 5 launcher. An inquiry concluded that the new version of the rocket probably failed because its exhaust nozzle disintegrated. The Rosetta mission will now have to be redesigned to target a different comet at a later date.
(Financial Times, Independent, Daily Telegraph)

New moons seen over Neptune
Three new moons have been found orbiting Neptune, bringing the total to 11. The moons, between 18 and 24 miles wide, are 100 million times fainter than can be seen with the naked eye. A team from the Harvard-Smithsonian centre in Cambridge, Massachusetts, found the moons using telescopes in Chile and Hawaii.
(Daily Telegraph)

From below stairs to gallery walls
The National Portrait Gallery is a classless society: it has no servants - and will therefore be compelled to borrow some from other museums and galleries for a unique exhibition next autumn. William Hogarth's six servants, immortalised in 1750 in a tender and dignified group portrait, will be joined by four centuries of butlers and cooks, housekeepers and stable boys, nannies and gardeners.

Taking the mick : G2 asks whether thousands of British students are doing Mickey Mouse degrees.

Comment : college hopefuls should study in America, according to a senior research fellow at Imperial College, London.
(Financial Times)

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