Today's news

November 19, 2003

Graduate debt soars for students from poorest families

Students from Britain's poorest homes have nearly 50 per cent more debt on graduation than those from middle-class homes, according to research for the Department for Education and Skills compiled by Claire Callender of London South Bank University. The average student debt has almost trebled over the past four years to £8,666, the study says. The report also reveals that students' annual expenditure has gone up by 15 per cent over the period. The government claimed students' increased spending showed their standard of living had risen. Alan Johnson, the minister for higher education, said the report proved the government "absolutely right to abolish upfront fees".
( Independent, Daily Telegraph, Financial Times, Times, Guardian )

Crackdown on bogus degrees in South Africa
South Africa is struggling to contain an explosion in university degree fraud. More than 15 per cent of South Africans are estimated to have obtained their jobs on the basis of bogus education credentials. The huge scale of the problem has forced South Africa’s leading universities to create a National Qualification Register to help employers to confirm the veracity of academic claims.
( Times )

British business schools snubbed by scholarships
Chancellor Gordon Brown's efforts to mend fences with business backfired yesterday as plans to offer scholarships in America for young entrepreneurs were taken as a snub to British colleges. The chancellor announced plans to the Confederation of British Industry conference for business students from disadvantaged areas to spend a semester at US Ivy League universities such as Harvard or Yale on so-called Greenspan scholarships. But the London Business School, which has been ranked among the top schools in the world for entrepreneurship, led protests from British colleges asking why they had been overlooked.

Australian file-swap students convicted
Three students in Sydney have been convicted of swapping music files over the internet, in the first case of its kind in the world. The students pleaded guilty to 68 copyright infringement charges. They received 18-month suspended sentences and 200 hours of community service. The trio set up the MP3/ WMA Land website, which had an archive of 390 CDs and 1,800 tracks to download.
( Guardian )

Dangers of concentrating research on a few
Malcolm McVicar, University of Central Lancashire vice-chancellor, writes on the dangers of concentrating research on a few universities.
( Financial Times )

Centuries-old toothbrush found
Archaeologists have unearthed what could be Europe's oldest toothbrush. The brush, dug up in the German town of Minden, is at least 250 years old. The brush's animal-bone handle is carved into a spoon believed to be for cleaning the owner's ears.
( Independent )

Obituary : Nigel Fannin, the marine geologist who pioneered exploration of Britain's continental shelf, died on November 3, aged 60.
( Times )

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