Today's news

May 21, 2003

Government raises twins to boost case for top-up fees
The government will today seize on the story of a set of hypothetical twins to mount a defence of its decision to let universities charge top-up fees. Researchers at the London School of Economics have isolated the precise value of going to a university in the Russell Group rather than, say, a former polytechnic. If one twin went to Oxford and the other to Luton and they had identical academic and personal histories and left their respective universities with the same degree, at the same class, and were male, one would nevertheless earn up to 6 per cent more in the span of his life. Margaret Hodge, higher education minister, will refer to the research at a seminar at No. 11 Downing Street.
(Financial Times)

Why we must defend the ivory tower
Bradford University philosophy professor Anthony O'Hear says that the government fails to understand that universities should be places for education and illumination, not just training.
(Daily Telegraph)

Study gives up the ghost on ghosts
Ghosts and supernatural phenomena do not exist but neither are they all in the mind, the largest scientific investigation of the paranormal has concluded. A team from the University of Hertfordshire examined paranormal experiences at Hampton Court Palace in southwest London and the South Bridge Vaults in Edinburgh. The results, published in the British Journal of Psychology, conclude that cold draughts, poor or variable lighting, claustrophobia and magnetic fields can all promote a sense of unease that some people interpret as a supernatural presence. As these environmental factors affect the same spots again and again, they quickly acquire a reputation for being haunted.
(Times, Daily Mail)

Scientists resort to equations to locate best beaches
A three-year research project, led by a professor of environmental science at the University of Glamorgan in Wales, has reduced the scenic splendours of the world's most beautiful beaches to a mathematical formula, rating them on a scale of one to five. Sixty beaches in three countries were assessed. The top five to emerge included Cirali in Turkey, Dingli Cliffs in Malta and Little Haven and Poppit Sands in Pembrokeshire, West Wales.

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