Today's news

October 17, 2003

University growth 'will devalue degrees'

Degrees will be worth less and less as the government expands higher education, leading to a bigger demand for employees with postgraduate qualifications, according to Sir Colin Lucas, Oxford University's vice-chancellor. He laid out plans yesterday for taking more postgraduate and overseas students for both financial and academic reasons in his last annual oration. Sir Colin added that the university's teaching account was £23 million in deficit and revenue from top-up fees, not expected to come through until 2009, would not remedy the under-funding. He warned that top-up fees legislation might not get through parliament and urged the university to consider other ways of bringing in revenue.
( Financial Times )

'Drug rape' fear at Cambridge colleges
A rapist is believed to be stalking Cambridge University colleges after students reported that their drinks had been spiked during freshers' week. Two female undergraduates at Gonville and Caius College said that they had suffered the effects of Rohypnol, misused to incapacitate victims and leave them susceptible to sexual assault. It is the first time that the parties at the start of term have been tainted by more sinister overtones.
( Times )

Benefits of a later start at university
Alan Rogers writes that people should be encouraged to go to university after working for several years.
( Times )

£300m student accommodation contract for Jarvis
Jarvis, which gave up its rail maintenance contracts recently, has won a £300 million contract to build 3,000 rooms for the University of Lancaster. It is the largest ever private finance initiative deal for student accommodation.
( Guardian )

Dundee cell study aims to heal wounds
Researchers at Dundee University have been awarded £1 million to produce a way of regenerating the diseased peripheral arteries and veins that are essential to healing wounds such as leg ulcers, which cost the National Health Service £600 million a year to treat.
( Financial Times )

Doctors discover why gene therapy gave boys cancer
Scientists have discovered why a pioneering gene therapy used to treat boys born with a rare disease of the immune system gave two of them cancer. In both cases the therapy corrected the faulty gene but also switched on a cancer-causing gene, the team reports today in the journal Science .
( Guardian )

Overweight men face higher risk of infertility
Men who are overweight or obese run a higher risk of infertility, US researchers have found. Details of the study were revealed at the annual conference of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine in Texas. ( Independent, Times )

Survey shows short-haul flights can cause blood clots
Air passengers are at risk of developing deep vein thrombosis even on flights lasting just a few hours, a new study suggests. Scientists from G. d'Annunzio University in Italy monitored the health of passengers flying between Stansted in Essex and airports in Italy. They found that a small proportion suffered DVT within two to three hours of take-off.
( Independent )

Drugs will soon offer HIV patients normal lifespan
Nearly all HIV patients receiving modern drug treatments can expect to live at least 10 years from the date of infection and may ultimately enjoy a normal lifespan, researchers said yesterday. The findings come from an analysis of 22 studies across Europe, Australia and Canada, which assessed the effect of the new treatment regime, called Highly Active Anti-Retroviral Therapy. The research, published in The Lancet , was led by the Medical Research Council's clinical trials unit in London.
( Independent )

Microwaves zap the goodness out of our veg
Microwaving vegetable robs them of almost all their goodness, according to scientists at the University of Murcia, Spain. Their research is published in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture .
( Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph )

Spaceman runs into great wall of disappointment
When Yang Liwei, China's first astronaut, emerged from his capsule yesterday after orbiting Earth 14 times in 21 hours, there was only one question on the lips of those who gathered around him: "Is it true that you can see the Great Wall of China from space?" Yang’s answer, "Erm, no", dispels a modern myth which has become a staple of pub quizzes, has been repeated in schools and even found its way into the Trivial Pursuit game.
( Times )

Round-up of GM crop trial report coverage
Proven: the environmental dangers that may halt GM revolution · Biggest study of environmental impact of GM crops gives critics field day · How biotechnology breeds hopes, doubts and fears down the food chain  · The great debate: separating the wheat from the chaff ( Independent ) · Birds and the bees: how wildlife suffered · All sides draw comfort from report ( Guardian ) · Field trials show GM crop farming could be 'disastrous' for wildlife · 'If people do not buy it, there's no point in growing it'. ( Daily Telegraph ) · GM crop impact trial finds threat to environment · Biotech industry rejects call for ban on products · Neutral stance by ministers fails to impress critics ( Financial Times ) · Decision on GM crops postponed until after election · Beet and rape harmful, but maize beneficial ( Times ).

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