Today's news

October 20, 2003


Lib Dems urge £2,000 grants for poor students

Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy is to strengthen his party's support for free higher education by saying he wants poor students in the UK to be given maintenance grants of up to £2,000. In a speech today at the London School of Economics, Mr Kennedy will also say he wants the Scottish coalition government, which includes the Liberal Democrats, to be given sufficient funds to drop its plan to make students pay back maintenance grants after graduation.
( Guardian )

Challenging times for universities
If venture capitalists really are starting to dip their toes back into the area of early-stage investments, there is little evidence yet of them showing much interest in backing high-technology spin-offs from Britain's universities. The experience from Yorkshire, where the universities of Leeds, Sheffield and York co-operate in the White Rose consortium, suggests that venture capitalists have yet to regain their risk-taking appetites.
( Financial Times )

BMA caution over student debt
Fear of debt is preventing working-class students applying to medical school, the British Medical Association has cautioned. The BMA says top-up fees particularly affect medical students as the length and intensity of courses prevent them from taking part-time jobs to fund their studies.
( Times )

Women outperform men at university
A study carried out at Brunel University's department of geography and earth sciences indicates that women work harder than men at university and get better degrees as a result. The data reveals that 65 per cent of female students were awarded a 2:1 or a first, while only 35 per cent of male graduates achieved the same results. The study, which tracked approximately 200 students over a four-year period, is all the more startling given that there was no noticeable difference in their A-level qualifications.
( Independent )

New energy source found in tap water
Researchers at the University of Alberta in Canada say they may have stumbled across an alternative source of clean energy to rival wind and solar power. The scientists discovered that forcing tap water through extremely narrow glass tubes generates an electric current running the length of the tube. The work is published in the Journal of Micromechanics and Microengineering today. "It's the kind of system you might be able to use to scavenge power from the environment, where you already have rapid flows of water," said Andrew Holmes, an expert in microengineering at Imperial College London.
( Guardian )

Murderous mastodons exposed
Latest studies show that mastodons, relatives of the woolly mammoth that died out 10,000 years ago, were not peaceful, browsing vegetarians that used their long, curved tusks only for a bit of log-rolling. Aided by 3D computer graphics, scientists at the University of Michigan, in Ann Arbor, have found evidence in the fossil remains of male adult mastodons that some clearly died in bloody, tusk-to-tusk engagements.
( Times )

Aga Khan aims to educate West about Islam
The Aga Khan, the spiritual leader of 20 million Ismaili Muslims, led a meeting yesterday of Islamic scholars who are trying to demonstrate to people in Europe the extent of their faith's influence on art, science and philosophy. The true jihad or "holy war" should be that waged against ignorance of Islamic art and culture in the West, the Aga Khan said. He responded to speculation that he would close the Ismaili centre in Kensington by saying that its work would not be diminished, but two centres would open in Canada.
( Times )

Degrees of manipulation
Richard Morrison writes that the cure for bad schooling is to rectify how children are schooled, not to tinker with university admissions procedures.
( Times )

Graduate recruitment special report
Just the job: with debts of £10,000, students wonder if it's worth it · Of course, minister: students believe civil servants enjoy better conditions · CVs in cyberspace: getting the right response to online résumés.
( Financial Times )

Excited at new life as a poor student
Jeremy Carson, a 30-year-old Londoner, is writing a diary for The Daily Telegraph of his year as an MBA student.
( Daily Telegraph )

Academic advance
The positive effects of switching from the private sector to university administration.
( Independent )

Kenneth Baker sets the record straight
"Simon Jenkins (Comment, October 15) appears to have misinterpreted the university reforms which I introduced as secretary of state for education in the late 1980s - he describes them somewhat farcically as 'Leninist'."
( Times )

Roundup of higher education items in the weekend papers
Students at King's College, Cambridge, are to vote on direct action in opposition to plans to allow private US students to enter ( Observer; Times , October 18)   ·  Students earning more than £32,000 per annum after university may have to pay tax at 49 per cent to repay their tuition fee debts ( News of the World , October 19)  · Letter proposing that subsidies should be directed at university subjects we need ( Mail on Sunday )  · Alan Johnson has announced 10,000 further places on foundation degree courses with the aim of producing a highly skilled workforce ( Guardian , October 18)  ·  Hundreds of University of East Anglia students demonstrated against proposed university top-up fees ( Daily Express , October 18).

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