Today's news

January 21, 2003

One in three students to get £1,000 grants
A third of students will get up to £1,000 a year in state grants to help with living costs, in an attempt to ensure that fear of debt does not deter poorer candidates from university. The grants are smaller than expected but cover a larger group of students, with more than 100,000 qualifying from the average annual UK intake. Charles Clarke, the education secretary, hopes that the grants, along with a new "access regulator" and a big increase in public funding for universities, will sugar the pill of plans, to be unveiled tomorrow, to allow universities to charge differential top-up fees. Reintroducing maintenance support marks a U-turn for Labour, which scrapped the old system in 1997. However, the new payments will look more like allowances paid to teenagers in some areas to help them stay on at school or college than the old student grants.
(Financial Times, Guardian)
Clarke denies struggle for power with Brown (Guardian)
Will top-up fees be that issue that finally divides Blair and Brown? (Daily Telegraph)

Minister says animal tests vital for science
The government declared unequivocally yesterday that animal experiments remain essential for medical advances, human welfare, and protection of the environment. The government said the idea of a British research centre for the three Rs was "worth exploring further", but warned that research into alternatives to animal testing should be seen as mainstream science rather than as a science of opposition.

Electric toothbrush fails to sparkle
Most electric toothbrushes are no better than traditional brushes at preventing tooth decay and gum disease, an independent group of researchers said yesterday. The largest study of its kind found that only powered brushes with a "rotation-oscillation" action were any more effective than manual brushing. Even then, the reduction of plaque and gum disease was "modest" while the benefits were "borderline" in the very long term.
(Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail)

Old Vic and New London top RSC des res list
The Royal Shakespeare Company has stepped up its search for a London home to replace the two purpose-built auditoriums at the Barbican in London, which many in the organisation feel it should never have left. Top of its wish list are the Old Vic at Waterloo - a theatre thick with ghosts of RSC glories past - and Andrew Lloyd Webber's slightly less gilded New London on Drury Lane, home for most of the past 20 years to the composer's musical cash cow Cats .

River story wins poetry prize
Alice Oswald last night won the TS Eliot Prize for Dart , a single epic poem which follows the river from its source to the sea.

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