Today's news

July 10, 2003

University fees must rise to £5,000 say MPs
Student tuition fees will have to rise to £5,000 a year to prevent the government's university reforms from collapsing, an all-party group of MPs has concluded. The report by the Commons education committee says that plans to cap fees at £3,000 a year on their introduction in 2006 will not work because too many universities will levy the maximum amount. A wider range of charges will be required to create a genuine market in higher education. The conclusion was seized on last night by backbench Labour opponents of the fees, who promised to mount a rebellion when the measure is introduced into parliament in the autumn.
(THES, Times, Financial Times, Guardian, Independent, Daily Mail)

Labour accused over universities
The government should stop trying to "micro-manage" universities, the Labour-dominated select committee on education said yesterday. In a highly critical response to the white paper on the future of higher education, the MPs said the government should be "setting guidelines at most and leaving others to take decisions on detail". They also accused the government of seeing universities principally as economic agents. "There is very little in the white paper about intellectual or cultural life in higher education, or the broader development of the individual," they said. The MPs rejected two of the government's central proposals: the Office for Fair Access, and plans to concentrate research funding on the most successful universities.
(Daily Telegraph)

Iranian students held after calling off rally
Hundreds of Iranian hardline Islamic vigilantes, police and pro-democracy youths fought  running street battles near Tehran University yesterday on the anniversary of the 1999 student unrest. Trouble erupted when three Iranian student activists were abducted by armed vigilantes after announcing that they were calling off rallies to mark the anniversary of democracy protests. Dozens of student leaders have been detained recently and their whereabouts remain unknown.
(Guardian)

Pakistan's Islamists round on 'vulgar' English lit
Some of the great works of English literature could be scrapped from the syllabus of one of Pakistan's leading universities because of what professors fear is a rising tide of Muslim fundamentalism. A review of books studied in the English courses at Punjab University in Lahore singled out several texts, including Alexander Pope's The Rape of the Lock, Ernest Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises, and Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels as containing offensive sexual connotations which were deemed "vulgar". Academics from the English department have fiercely resisted the proposed culling of the syllabus and warn of other moves to curtail liberal and critical opinion in favour of Islamist thinking.
(Guardian)

Secret of genius is sexual chemistry
The careers of great male scientists, like those of male criminals, are most prolific in the first flush of youth, according to a research from the University of Canterbury, New Zealand. Both groups pursue their chosen paths with greatest panache before the age of 35 and both lose their enthusiasm when they marry. The explanation, published in the Journal of Research in Personality, is simple: these men seek to impress women with their virtuosity.
(Times, Daily Telegraph)

Trees prefer cities to the countryside
The environmental effects of pollution can be greater in the countryside than in the cities that produce it, scientists from Cornell University, New York, have discovered. Their research, published in the journal Nature, reveals that saplings in New York City grow taller and faster than those downwind in the countryside because damaging ozone from the city is drifting into rural areas.
(Times, Daily Telegraph)

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