Today's news

October 15, 2003


Cambridge to start using aptitude test from December

As Cambridge University begins sifting through a record number of applications it is preparing to put hundreds of candidates through a new "thinking skills" test intended to identify those with the greatest potential. The new test, to be introduced in December, aims to detect learning skills as opposed to educational privilege. Geoff Parks, the university's director of admissions, said experimental versions of the test used over the last two years by some colleges appeared to indicate that it was not only a positive predictor of performance at Cambridge, but could also go some way to filtering out the effects of good or bad schooling. Cambridge predicts that applications will be up 25 per cent on last year.
( Guardian )

Oxbridge fight to keep women only colleges
Students at Oxford and Cambridge universities launched a campaign today to protect women-only colleges. The "purple ribbon" campaign is in response to fears that Oxford's only all-female college, St Hilda's, is renewing its bid to admit men.
( Evening Standard )

Our universities must declare independence
Simon Jenkins writes that British universities lack leadership. "They have no guts, no stomach for a fight, no will to stand up against an overbearing government. There are two cardinal academic rights: to determine access to studentship and to define freedom of research. Government is now obsessively interfering in both. But as long as university leaders will not defend these freedoms, I cannot see why the rest of us should bother."
( Times )

Student teachers give PGCE an 'F'
A prospective teacher asks whether following the Graduate Teacher Programme or taking a PGCE is the better option. According to comments in a debate entitled The PGCE is rubbish! running on The Times Educational Supplement website, students give the thumbs-up to on the job training.
( Daily Telegraph )

Eight universities to profit from Rolls-Royce research
Following approval of government funds to carry out cutting-edge technology research, eight universities will be involved in a four-year, £38.8 million programme run by the aero-engine company Rolls-Royce.
( Independent )

Fiji villagers say sorry for eating missionary
Villagers in Fiji whose ancestors killed and ate a British missionary 136 years ago are to offer a traditional apology to his descendants. The Rev Thomas Baker, of the Wesleyan Methodist Church, was killed in the remote mountain community of Navatusila in 1867, possibly after he took a comb out of a chief's hair. Lance Martin, an archivist at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, which holds an account of the Rev Baker's death, said: "The story about the comb may be a bit of a myth.
( Guardian, Daily Telegraph, Times )

Frozen embryos increase risk of ectopic pregnancy
Using frozen embryos in fertility treatment raises the risk of a potentially fatal ectopic pregnancy by 17 times, researchers at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island have found. Their study will be presented to the annual conference of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine in Texas today. Last month, British fertility expert Lord Winston called for more research, and warned that some women were, in effect, being experimented on before the dangers were known.
( Independent, Daily Mail )

Exercise can boost sex drive in menopause
Women who turn to HRT to boost their sex drive could be wasting their money - they might just need some exercise, researchers at the University of Vermont have found.
( Independent, Times )

Coffee drinking linked to higher miscarriage risk
Two studies in the journal Paediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology have found that women who regularly drink coffee during pregnancy are twice as likely to miscarry and nearly twice as likely to have a small baby compared with women whose caffeine intake was low.
( Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail )

Seagrass ecosystems at risk
A survey of seagrasses has revealed that 15 per cent of this unique marine ecosystem has been lost in the past decade. Seagrass beds are being destroyed by nutrient enrichment from human sewage, intensive fishing and even by yachting and jet-skiing, according to the editors of the World Atlas of Seagrasses , produced by the Cambridge-based World Conservation Monitoring Centre.
( Independent )

Left-handed batsmen do have the edge
When it comes to cricket, left-handers do have an advantage, according to a study of batting records from the World Cup earlier this year by researchers at the University of New South Wales, Sydney. Their findings appear today in the Royal Society journal Biology Letters .
( Daily Telegraph )

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