Today's news

August 14, 2003

Pass rate soars as pupils chase 'easy' A levels
Students are shunning traditional academic subjects in favour of less demanding A levels to help them win places at university, a headteachers' leader said on the day that the pass rate hit a record 95.4 per cent.
(Times, Financial Times, Daily Telegraph, Guardian, Independent, Daily Mail, Daily Express, Sun, Mirror)

Why become a scientist?
One aspect of the values of our society that has been highlighted by the Hutton inquiry is that of the status of the scientist. We have heard that one of our country's most eminent scientists, working in a field of huge importance, was rewarded with a salary of £63,496 and a precarious employment status. Letter.
(Daily Telegraph)

Low-cost foundation degrees aim to boost numbers in higher education
School-leavers will be offered up to 50,000 university places on new employer-led courses from 2005 in an attempt to boost numbers going into higher education.
(Financial Times)

Students with no passes can still take a degree
Thousands of students with no A levels are to be given the chance to study for a degree. Ministers have opened up ‘alternative routes' to university to recruit half of young people to higher education by 2010. Students who find they have failed their A levels will be able to take vocational curses leading to certificates that can be used to gain degree places.
(Daily Mail)

Sony game degree 'not Mickey Mouse'
Critics of the "dumbed down" examinations system gave a collective groan yesterday when a university launched a PlayStation degree. The masters degree, which is sponsored by Sony, the Japanese electronics company that manufactures the computer console, will be offered at Sheffield Hallam University from October.

Graduates ‘face debts of £33,000 by 2010'
Students receiving their A-level results today would be burdened with debts of more than £17,500 if they graduated in 2006, financial analysts have calculated. Those who follow them into university may have to deal with shortfalls of more than £33,000 by 2010. The study, by Barclays, paints the bleakest picture yet of future undergraduate finances.
(Times, THES, Daily Telegraph, Daily Express, Guardian)

Earn as you learn?
The average student these days leaves university between £10,000 and £20,000 in the red. A look at what can be done to ease the pain, both now and later.

Take it further
How coming from a further education college could just win you that coveted place at university.

The birth of a biotech cluster
Hyderabad is witnessing a gathering of the elements needed to create a life science hotspot to match its IT industry.
(Financial Times)

Graduate has designs on music while you swim
A gadget that could take the tedium out of swimming lengths in a pool has been devised by a student. Sam James, who has now graduated with a BSc in industrial design from Brunel University, developed what is believed to be the first underwater digital music player.
(Daily Telegraph)

Drake 'discovered Alaska on secret voyage'
Sir Francis Drake was not only the first Englishman to sail around the globe, he also found time on his voyage to discover Alaska, a new book claims.
(Daily Telegraph)

Eat your greens 'and live two years longer'
Eating vegetables every day adds two years to your life, research by scientists at the University of Perugia in Italy has shown.
(Daily Mail)

Found in Wales, folklore's harbinger of death
The long hot summer has brought a monster caterpillar made famous by The Silence of the Lambs to Britain. The death's head hawk moth caterpillar, a 3in-long purple and green giant that feeds on potato plants and deadly nightshade, was spotted by scientists in Wales.
(Daily Telegraph)

Nefertiti's facelift
Scientists at Nottingham and Sheffield universities have used digital technology to reconstruct the face of the Egyptian queen Nefertiti from a badly damaged mummy.
(Daily Mail, Sun, Daily Mirror)

Cancer hope in aspirin
Aspirin could one day be used to treat breast cancer, scientists claim in the journal Nature.
(Daily Mail, Times, Sun, Daily Mirror)

Humans have evolved to worship celebrity, say biologists
The modern fascination with celebrity may be much more ancient than is usually thought because scientists believe that human beings have evolved to look up to the stars. Actors, singers and sportsmen are adored, admired and imitated by other mortals thanks to mankind's unique capacity for learning and copying successful survival strategies, according to a new theory.
(Times, Sun, Daily Mirror)

Rabbit eggs show way to human stem cell source
Chinese scientists have successfully reprogrammed human adult cells into a master state normally found only in embryos by fusing them with rabbit eggs.

Forget T-Rex... meet the Raj
Remains of a 30ft meat-eating dinosaur to rival Tyrannosaurus rex have been found by scientists in India. The animal, which had a distinctive horn, hunted herbivore dinosaurs 65 million years ago. It is dubbed Rajasaurus narmadensis --"regal reptile of the Narmada", the river area where it was found.

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