Today's news

August 28, 2003

More women given university places than men
21,000 more women than men have been accepted for university degree courses that start this year, according to the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service. The number of women accepted to full-time education stands at 172,000 compared with 147,000 men. These figures represent rises of 2.7 per cent and 1.7 per cent respectively.
(Financial Times)

Animal rights activists hit by exclusion zones order
Five large Japanese companies, said to be customers of the controversial Huntingdon Life Sciences drug-testing group, yesterday won extensive protection against harassment by animal rights activists. The measures follow allegations of a campaign against HLS's Japanese customers.
(Financial Times, Times)

Recruiters target fresher fairs
Depressing news from academe, where undergraduates are being targeted by recruiters even as they unpack their Athena posters for the walls of their first student digs. A booklet to be circulated at fresher fairs this autumn, supported by two big City recruiters, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, urges first-year students to plan their careers and "develop skills for employability".

Medical error at King's College
The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service wrongly listed the date of birth of a would-be medical student as 1924. As a result, Mahammed Mahammed, 19, from London, who expected to get into King's College London to read medicine, was rejected by four universities. He is now studying pharmacy.

'Mickey Mouse' degree gets the chop?
With debate raging about the validity of certain higher education courses, it is good to see that Sunderland City College is offering a 10-week effort - fully funded by the Learning and Skills Council - entitled Serial Killers Workshop.

Students bid for science and technology 'Oscars'
The shortlist of Britain's 12 most innovative undergraduates who will be competing next month for the title of Science Student of the Year 2003 has been published.
(Daily Telegraph)

Hubble telescope captures stunning image of Mars
As Mars made its closest pass to the Earth for 60,000 years, the Baltimore-based Space Telescope Science Institute, which operates the Hubble space telescope, said the close pass enabled them to capture "quite spectacular" images of the Red Planet that reveal details as small as 17 miles across. Visit the HubbleSite for details and images.
(Daily Telegraph, Guardian)

Which A levels are the easiest?
John Dunford, general secretary of the Secondary Heads Association is concerned about the perception of some A-level subjects being harder than others - the ones that the country most needs people to study.
(Independent, Education)

Britain is a nation of 'good citizens'
Britons are better citizens than ever before, according to The Citizen Audit , a survey of 12,000 people in 101 local authority areas. The study, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, also found that Britons are increasingly cynical about politicians and the way democracy works. The the two-year project was co-led by Sheffield University.
(Daily Telegraph)

Regeneration projects struggle to revive provinces
Britain's provincial cities have suffered a greater exodus of people in the past two decades than previously thought, according to an examination of the implications of the 2001 Census. An unpublished study by Tony Champion, professor of population geography at Newcastle University and one of the UK's top demographic experts, shows that government backed regeneration projects are struggling to revive urban populations in England outside London.
(Financial Times)

Gold medals run in the genes
A single gene may mark a person out as an elite sprinter or marathon runner, Australian researchers claimed yesterday. The discovery raises the prospect of identifying potential top athletes at birth using a DNA test. The findings are reported in New Scientist magazine.
(Daily Telegraph, Independent, Times, Guardian)

Estonians set to solve riddle of ill health
Estonia is embarking on an extraordinary project to build up a national and possibly cross-border genetic data bank to help to solve the riddle of common diseases such as cancer and Parkinson's. The tiny Baltic republic is becoming a social laboratory for Europe and a testing ground for some of the big ethical issues of the 21st century.

Plain truth about healthy chocolate
Scientists have bad news for lovers of milk chocolate. An independent study by researchers in Rome and Glasgow confirms today in the journal Nature, that chocolate does contain antioxidants that help the heart, but the benefits of these chemicals are rendered inactive by milk. The good news is that plain chocolate (without a glass of milk) significantly boosts blood antioxidant levels.
(Daily Telegraph, Independent, Times, Guardian)

Secrets of nature's silk weavers revealed
Researchers in at Tufts University in Boston report in today's issue of Nature that they have discovered how spiders control the structure of the proteins in their silk-spinning glands.

Former Leicester and Aberdeen v-c dies
The classicist and economist Sir Fraser Noble, former vice-chancellor of Leicester and Aberdeen universities and secretary of the Carnegie Trust for Scottish Universities, has died aged 85.
(Daily Telegraph)

Eminent film historian dies
JohnHuntley, the film historian who lectured on the art of cinema for the British Film Institute before film history was taught at universities, has died aged 84.

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