Today's news

April 30, 2003

Consultation reveals university research fears
Deep fears about the effects of restricting research to fewer universities have surfaced in many of the responses to the government's white paper in the consultation period that ends today. Mr Clarke believes there is no necessary connection between good teaching and research; most academics strongly disagree. Changes to the research landscape are on the way. In the coming year, funding for the majority of the 6,000 researchers in departments rated 3-a in the most recent research assessment exercise will be axed, and despite loud complaints from academics, Mr Clarke seems determined to press ahead with funding cuts to departments rated 4 and below - a further 12,000 research-active staff over the next few years.

Inspectors berate quality of further education
The quality of further education has been savaged by an official report by Ofsted and the Adult Learning Inspectorate. The authors say that almost one in ten lessons in colleges are "unsatisfactory", that too many colleges have "inadequate provision or unsatisfactory leadership and management" and that "some courses do not reflect the real world of work". The report also threatens further turmoil for the Learning and Skills Council, Labour's three-year-old body for tackling Britain's training gap with its rivals.
(Financial Times, Guardian)

Private schools to make peace with Bristol
Independent schools are poised to call off their boycott of Bristol University. After allegations of discrimination against their students, and less than two months after announcing that sixth formers would be encouraged to blacklist Bristol, the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference and the Girls' Schools Association say they now accept that their students are treated fairly. A joint committee of the two associations, which represent 450 leading schools including Eton, Rugby, Winchester and Roedean, is expected to meet next month to formalise the lifting of the boycott
(Times, Financial Times, Guardian, Daily Telegraph, Independent, Daily Mail)

Scientists put finger on how fish feel pain
Do fish feel pain when hooked by anglers? Yes, according to scientists from the Roslin Institute, the government research station. Answering the question that bitterly splits anglers and animal rights campaigners, the scientists today claim they have proof. Publishing their results in a Royal Society journal, the Roslin scientists said experiments on rainbow trout confirmed fish have nervous systems that can detect tissue-damaging stimuli.
(Financial Times, Times, Guardian, Independent, Daily Mail)

Researchers hunt for Wimps in Yorkshire
A £3.1 million research laboratory was opened by science minister Lord Sainsbury this week at Boulby, 1,100m under the North Yorkshire coastline. British scientists are hoping the refurbished laboratory will help them find a "Wimp" - the weakly interacting massive particle that is thought to hold the key to dark matter and the nature of the Universe. In particle physics, the search for the Wimp ranks second in importance only to the Higgs boson, the elusive "God particle" that is believed to explain why matter has mass.
(Times, Financial Times, Daily Telegraph) 

Wales aims for university rugby double
The University of Wales Institute Cardiff (UWIC) hopes to go where only Loughborough have been before by doing the double in the men’s and women’s British Universities rugby final at Twickenham today. Northumbria face UWIC in the men’s final. The women’s final should be just as tight, with UWIC, the champions, facing Loughborough in a reprise of last year’s final.

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