Today's news

September 17, 2003

Minister seizes on OECD survey to back fees policy
The financial return from going to university is greater in Britain than anywhere else in the developed world, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development reported yesterday. The OECD's latest survey of education in its 30 member nations, found men in the UK could expect a 17 per cent return on their investment of time and money while women could expect 15 per cent after the sums they paid for their education were taken into account. Alan Johnson, the minister for higher education, said that the OECD findings demonstrated that it was correct for graduates to pay towards the cost of their degrees. Andreas Schliecher, OECD head of indicators and analysis, said that for the first time the report had been able to show that Britain was way ahead of competitors in offering short, flexible courses to improve qualifications throughout the workforce. However, the UK has slipped from 13th to 22nd in the secondary school exams ranking. Britain also falls behind most counterparts on participation rates in non-compulsory schooling.
(Financial Times)
Read tomorrow's THES for a complete analysis of the OECD survey.

Cambridge head pledges to help poorer students
Alison Richard, vice-chancellor elect of Cambridge University, will today pledge to find new ways of giving financial help to poor students. The former provost of Yale has wide experience of a market-based student places system as operated in the US Ivy League. But those expecting a whirlwind period of change after her arrival at the Old Schools - the university's central administration building - could be disappointed.
(Financial Times)

AUT not proposing to strike over fees
Sally Hunt, the general secretary of the Association of University Teachers, writes that the AUT is not considering striking over top-up fees, as to do so would be illegal, but will continue to oppose their introduction vigorously.
(Independent)

Experts doubt researcher's human clone claim
A cloned human embryo could be implanted into a surrogate mother's womb by the end of the year, American fertility specialist Panayiotis Zavos, director of the Andrology Institute of America in Kentucky, said yesterday. The doctor, whose work has been denounced by mainstream scientists, intended to attempt to start a pregnancy with the embryo in July, but delayed the procedure when the surrogate mother developed health complications. Richard Gardner, chairman of the Royal Society working group on stem cells and cloning, said that the claim should be considered "with extreme scepticism" until Dr Zavos presents evidence that can be properly refereed.
(Times)

Oxford in tussle with Japan over stolen book
A bitter row has broken out between Oxford University and Nihon Shika Daigaku, a wealthy private university of dentistry in Japan over the ownership of a pioneering 16th-century book on human anatomy. The precious tome, a rare 1552 pocket edition of De Humani Corporis Fabrica, by the Belgian anatomist Andreas Vesalius, was one of 74 books stolen in the early 1990s from the Christ Church College library. Only 12 copies of the book are thought to exist and this copy is estimated to be worth about £15,000. The book's new owners have refused to return the volume, and Christ Church is preparing for a legal battle.
(Times)

Researchers reveal the retail experience
University of Essex researchers have been busying themselves with a phenomenon that many have experienced but few have properly understood: men and women are incompatible when it comes to shopping. Apparently the maximum amount of time they can safely spend shopping together is 72 minutes.
(Independent, Daily Mail)

East Anglian HE cluster formalises links
Academic and research institutions and commercial organisations in Cambridge, Norwich and Ipswich have been forging informal links for many years and intend to formally launch the i10 Group at the start of October. With £4.5 million of public funding for the next three years, the partnership plans to improve communication across East Anglia for the benefit of the whole regional economy. The 536 information technology companies and 202 life sciences companies in the Cambridge region have between them received £829 million of funding over the last three years.
(Financial Times)

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