Students are 'worst in living memory'
Falling academic standards have made the current crop of university students the worst in living memory, dons have reported. In a survey of long-serving academics, almost 70 per cent believed today's students to be inferior to those they taught ten years ago; 58 per cent thought this was because A-level entry standards had been "dumbed down". The academics were split evenly over whether state school pupils with inferior entry qualifications should be given priority over better qualified students from the independent sector. Nearly 40 per cent said they would approve if their own university admitted state school students on lower grades at the expense of independent school students with higher grades; 37 per cent disapproved. ICM Research conducted telephone interviews for today's Times Higher Education Supplement with a random representative sample of more than 500 academics across the UK in late March.
Full poll details available at www.thes.co.uk/current_edition
Sheffield Hallam offers degree in PlayStation
Students who love playing computer games have had their prayers answered, from next October they can study for a 13-month master's degree in PlayStation at Sheffield Hallam University. Academics at the university have defended the PlayStation degree, or MSc in Entertainment Software Development, saying: "Writing software for games is some of the most challenging programming there is. It is time to have a course to give people those skills in this country. In economically depressed areas such as Sheffield it is important to tap into new areas." Sony Computer Entertainment UK will be giving technical back-up to students.
Cardiff scientist says Sars is from space
Sars may have originated from bacteria entering the Earth's atmosphere from outer space, a scientist has claimed. In a letter to the medical journal The Lancet, Professor Chandra Wickramasinghe of the University of Cardiff said he believed the virus that caused severe acute respiratory syndrome was extraterrestrial and perhaps reached Earth in a meteorite. He gave a warning that it could still be circulating in the atmosphere, and might fall anywhere on Earth for years to come. His opinions, however, have been derided by some in the scientific community as "bordering on the barmy". "The idea is a non-starter," Ian Jones, a virologist at the University of Reading, said. "This theory has been around for a long time and it was only a matter of when they linked it to Sars."