Today's news

June 30, 2003

Oxford investigates don's rejection of Israeli student 
Oxford University has launched an investigation after a professor rejected an application from an Israeli student because of his nationality. Andrew Wilkie, Nuffield professor of pathology, told Amit Duvshani that he would not accept him as a student because of the 'gross human rights abuses' Israel inflicts on Palestinians. In an email dated 23 June, Professor Wilkie wrote: 'I am sure that you are perfectly nice at a personal level but no way would I take on somebody who has served in the Israeli army'.
(Daily Mail, Guardian, Independent)

Iranian students confront leaders over free speech
Student leaders, defiant after a wave of street demonstrations, are warning Iran's political leadership that they will face full-blown confrontation unless political prisoners are released and a protest rally is allowed to go ahead. In a letter addressed to president Khatami, 106 prominent students condemned the arrest of dozens of student activists and a ban on street rallies to mark the anniversary on July 9 of a raid on a Tehran University dormitory four years ago.

Edexcel involved in new exam marking fiasco
Hundreds of GCSE scripts have been sent for marking by the exam board Edexcel to an unqualified trainee teacher completing a postgraduate certificate of education at Newman College in Birmingham. Not only has Edexcel failed to collect the completed religious studies papers, but it has sent further batches to the student's Leicester home.

Students failed by poor IT access at university
Some universities are squandering the economic potential of students with high-level computer skills, according to a report published today by education/IT specialists Ultralab. The majority of universities fail to provide their students with 24-hour access to IT systems, according to their prospectuses. And a quarter of students said there were no internet connections available in halls of residence. The survey, also found that 47 per cent of students cannot connect their own laptops to the university network.
(Financial Times)

Chinese is harder to learn than English
The Chinese need both sides of the brain to grapple with challenges of Mandarin, but English speakers listen with only half their minds on the job, a psychologist at the Wellcome Trust, and colleagues from hospitals in Oxford and London have proven. The research throws new light on how speech is understood, and could one day lead to new treatments for people whose understanding of language has been impaired by stroke.

Splatometers to be used to solve insect riddle
Scientists are to issue the splatometer - a postcard-sized piece of plastic film that fits to the front of your car - to measure the number of airborne bugs encountered during a road journey. It is intended to give a statistical basis to a growing public perception - that a lot fewer insects are about than there used to be. The survey has been devised by conservation scientists from the RSPB who intend it to be used by tens of thousands of people in a mass "citizen science" exercise.

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