Today's news

April 16, 2003

Estelle Morris to lead fight over fees
Former education secretary Estelle Morris is ready to lead a backbench fight against top-up fees and foundation hospitals. Ms Morris, who quit last October, told a rank-and-file meeting in London: "Members of the Labour Party don't like being told what to do or think and that's healthy." With students facing huge debts, MPs fear top-up fees will drive the poor out of higher education. Ms Morris also believes foundation hospitals - set to get more cash and financial freedom - will create a two-tier service. She added: "Tony wants to devolve power to what he calls the front line, but the Government should govern from the centre. That's what the people elected us for."
(Daily Mirror)

Students at greater risk of crime
More than a third of students have been crime victims in the past year, according to a Home Office study published yesterday. At present, 60 per cent of student crime is unreported. The study, based on 315 students at seven higher education colleges in the East Midlands, found that those in private accommodation were much more likely to be burgled than those in university accommodation. It found that 5 per cent of students had been assaulted in the past year and 4 per cent robbed. Just over 4 per cent said they had been stalked, with 62 per cent saying they had received threatening or obscene phone calls or notes.

Viking gene blamed for women's cancer
Families in Scotland may be able to blame a form of inherited cancer on the Vikings who began to arrive with Ivarr the Boneless and Halfdan Wide-Embrace more than 1,000 years ago. And a Northern Irish form of the disease may have been spread during the Elizabethan plantation of Ulster in the 16th century. Researchers report in the British Journal of Cancer today that they tracked 107 families through genetics clinics in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Dundee and Belfast, and found nearly 400 cases of breast cancer and 150 cases of ovarian cancer.

Pay freezes hurt as much as pay cuts
Warwick University economist Jennifer Smith has found that pay freezes are just as likely to demoralise staff as wage reductions. Previous psychological studies have suggested that workers react significantly less negatively to a pay freeze than to a pay cut. Smith's research, presented at the Royal Economic Society conference, found that workers taking pay freezes were no happier than those suffering pay cuts and know full well that there is little difference between a pay freeze and a small pay cut.

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