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November 10, 2003

Fear for standards as universities go for local students

A growing trend for universities to offer places to local students at the expense of better-qualified applicants from further afield was criticised yesterday as dangerous by Alan Smithers, professor of education at Liverpool University. "The government holds a strong but erroneous belief that students from particular postcodes are disadvantaged under the present arrangements," he said. "It is difficult enough to select on A levels at the present time, but to ask universities to look beyond previous academic achievement is to engage in social engineering."
( Times )

Wealth of nations mapped by their IQ
A country's prosperity is closely related to the average IQ of its population, according to research that has mapped global intelligence levels. The study of 60 countries by Richard Lynn, professor emeritus of psychology at the University of Ulster, and Tatu Vanhanen, professor emeritus of political science at the University of Tampere in Finland, identified a clear correlation between assessments of national mental ability and real gross domestic product, or GDP. "There is no doubt that poor nutrition has an effect on IQ levels," Flynn said.
( Times )

Strawberry clue to breast cancer risk
Scientists have found a way of measuring how eating strawberries and other plant foods could protect a woman from breast cancer. Research by Margaret Ritchie and colleagues at St Andrews University means that doctors can measure the amount of plant oestrogens in women's diets and relate it to their cancer risk and even to their treatment.
( Daily Telegraph )

3D specs to help unravel mysteries of paranoia
Scientists have found a new way to investigate paranoia - using virtual reality spectacles and joysticks. Daniel Freeman and colleagues from the Institute of Psychiatry at King's College London and University College London asked 24 volunteers with no history of mental illness to don three-dimensional glasses and "enter" a virtual reality room occupied by computer-generated people. They were asked to say whether the people were in any way hostile or menacing. The results of the study are published in the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disorders .
( Guardian )

Ken Livingstone becomes leading thinker
The mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, has joined Nobel prize winners and Ivy League professors on a list of leading scientific thinkers. He was named by Scientific American , America's best known science journal, as one of the top 50 visionaries building a better world this year because he championed the congestion charge in London. Andrew Balmford, from Cambridge, was included for work on economic development and its impact on the environment; Frances Stewart, from Oxford, was named for promoting the struggle against world poverty as a way to spread peace.
( Daily Telegraph )

US burger boss angry at lexicographical sideswipe
Welcome to the world of "McJobs", defined by the latest Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary as "low paying and dead-end work". The entry is one of 10,000 additions to the latest version of the dictionary. McDonald's is furious. Jim Cantalupo, the company's chief executive says in an open letter sent to US news organisations, that it is "an inaccurate description of restaurant employment" and a "slap in the face to the 12 million men and women" who work in the restaurant industry.
( Independent )

Higher education items in the weekend press
Edinburgh University is giving priority to applicants from Scotland and the north in a 'locals first' scheme ( Sunday Telegraph ) · Universities are rebelling over a government plan to force them to pay into a national bursary scheme for poorer students ( Sunday Times ) · Opponents of top-up fees predict resignations from the government when legislation reaches Parliament ( Independent on Sunday ) · As more students get 2:1 degrees, it might be time to scrap outdated categories ( Sunday Times ) * Students desperate to clear heavy debt are turning to gambling ( Sunday Express ) * Graduates in Scotland are receiving incentives to train as social workers ( Guardian , November 8)

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