Today's news

November 17, 2003

Royal Society seeks research funding overhaul
Britain's leading science academy has called for a radical overhaul of university research funding and a cut in the number of bureaucrats who administer the system. The Royal Society today accused the government and funding agencies of "tinkering" with the dual support system when it should be scrapped. "The time has come to stop rearranging the deck chairs on two entirely different ships which ultimately have the same direction," said Lord May of Oxford, Royal Society president.
( Financial Times, Guardian )

Leading universities plan entrance tests
The UK's leading universities are in talks to develop the first nationwide test for admission to a single subject in the most concerted challenge yet to the discredited A-level system. The move towards a customised American-style test for law students is being spearheaded by Oxford University. Cambridge, University College London, Kings College London, Bristol, Birmingham and Nottingham are all considering backing the proposals. Under the plan, potential law students would take a two-hour test based on a similar exam set in American legal faculties.
( Guardian , 15 November)

Rebel MPs back a rise in student fees
Up to 100 Labour MPs are backing plans for a rise in the flat rate tuition fee of £1,125 a year paid by university students to try to defeat the government's proposals for top-up fees. Several ministers have also privately told Anne Campbell, the MP for Cambridge and leading campaigner for the alternative package, that they support the idea. The MPs are likely to opt for a rise from the present £1,125 to about £2,000 a year - the figure said by higher education finance experts to be necessary to raise the same sum as the top-up fee.
( Independent , 14 November late edition)

US scientists look inside the mind of a racist
American scientists have developed a brain scan that they say can detect people harbouring racial prejudice. Jennifer Richeson, a neuroscientist at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, who led the study, said brain activity arises because the volunteers concentrated on not doing or saying anything offensive when shown photographs of black faces. The controversial study is published today in the journal Nature Neuroscience .
( Guardian, Times, Independent )

Bus driver charged with student's murder
A 39-year-old bus driver was charged last night with the murder of the college student Alicia Eborne, whose body was found concealed in thick woodland at an isolated spot on Dartmoor earlier yesterday. Lee Holbrook, from Plymouth, was arrested last week on suspicion of abduction. He will appear before Torbay magistrates today.
( Guardian, Times, Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph, Independent )

Higher education items in the weekend press
University students struggle with written English despite having good A-level grades according to former chief inspector of schools Mike Tomlinson ( Sun, Daily Mail , 15 November)  · A study from Brunel University claims that women are twice as likely as men to get a good degree ( Sunday Times )  · Edinburgh University vice-principal Mary Bownes writes to reassure applicants that geographical consideration is only one in a range of selection criteria ( Sunday Telegraph )  · London Metropolitan University is running an MSc course in sustainable architecture ( Guardian , 15 November).

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