Today's news

December 15, 2003


English students face top-up fees at Scots universities
University chiefs in Scotland want to prevent an influx of English students trying to escape top-up fees by charging them the same fees they would pay to study at universities in England. The plan from Universities Scotland raises the possibility of English students at Scottish universities paying about £9,000 more than their Scots counterparts, who will not face top-up fees. Principals and senior academics believe that the move is vital to stop thousands of English students filling university places that would normally be taken by Scots. ( Times )

Twice as many blacks in jail as at university
Almost twice as many black people are in prison as at university, according to a report by the Commission for Racial Equality. While almost 10,000 Afro-Caribbeans are in prisons in England and Wales, only about 6,000 are studying for a degree, tomorrow's report will say.
( Daily Telegraph )

Health research millions raided by ministers
Ministers were criticised yesterday for raiding millions of pounds earmarked for medical research and using it to solve short-term hospital funding problems. Current health service spending on research is £560 million, or 0.9 per cent of the overall budget. But around £400 million has been diverted annually to the day-to-day running of the NHS, to cope with long waiting lists and targets. Colin Blakemore, chief executive of the Medical Research Council, said yesterday that of the £560 million spent by the health service, most - around £400 million - was used to support London teaching hospitals. "There ought to be a firm commitment again to that 1.5 per cent target," he said.
( Daily Telegraph )

Tolkien runs rings round Big Read rivals
Lord of the Rings beat Pride and Prejudice for the title of "best loved novel of all time" in the corporation's Big Read contest. In a final dominated by titles whose profiles were raised by recent film or television tie-ins, a poll totalling half a million people at the weekend voted Tolkien's epic trilogy of struggle above Jane Austen's comedy of love and manners. Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy reached an unexpectedly high third place and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire came fifth.
( Guardian, Times, Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph )

Scientists put mice off the bottle
Hard-drinking mice can be put off alcohol by a compound that might one day be used as a pill to treat human alcoholics, scientists have discovered. Mice treated with the compound not only delayed taking their first drink, but also seemed to get less pleasure from it.
( Times )

Higher education items in the weekend press
- A typical woman graduate who goes on to have two children will on average take 20 years to pay off her student debt, according to figures compiled by the House of Commons Library. ( Observer )
- Queen Mary College, University of London has stopped offering chemistry degrees. ( Independent , December 13)
- Elite universities are giving signs that they might break away from the state system altogether if government proposals for top-up fees are rejected by MPs next month. ( Times , December 13)

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