Today's news

October 24, 2003

NUS poll deals new blow to top-up fees
The government's plans for top-up student tuition fees will be dealt a further blow today by a National Union of Students poll showing that a big majority of children studying for their GCSEs would decide against going to university if they incurred debts of £20,000. The survey of 1,018 pupils was carried out by Judith Watson and Andrew Church at the University of Brighton.
( Guardian, Financial Times )

PM prepares the ground for a turnabout over top-up fees
Tony Blair signalled yesterday that he was preparing for a significant climbdown on university top-up fees, saying he would change the policy if the public expressed strong objections. The prime minister said that the government would genuinely listen to public concerns and ideas on key policy areas, including tuition fees, during the nationwide consultation due to start at the end of November. Mr Blair said that the government has so far failed to get across the message that no parent would have to pay anything up front under the current plans, and that students would be paying back the fees interest-free.
( Times )

Universities may lose millons as fees scare off EU students
Millions of pounds of income could be lost by British universities after the introduction of top-up fees through the loss of students from other European Union countries, ministers have been told. The British Council said that scores of EU students will opt to study elsewhere rather than pay fees of up to £3,000 a year in Britain. The council estimates that the overseas market is worth £2.5 billion a year to vice-chancellors: of this, about 40 per cent - £1 billion - is accounted for by EU students.
( THES, Times )

Thousands expected at 'biggest ever' fees demo
Tens of thousands of students, parents and campaigners from all over the country are expected to be joined by fire eaters, stilt walkers and brass bands in central London on Sunday to take part in what is expected to be the biggest ever national demonstration against top-up fees. The march will leave London's Malet Street at 1:30pm and make its way to Trafalgar Square for 3:30pm for the rally. Today, the Liverpool Guild of Students is hosting a debate on the funding question with Mandy Telford of the NUS, representatives from the AUT and Labour MP for Walton Peter Kilfoyle. ( Guardian )

Parents are too poor to save for children
A third of parents are so short of money they cannot afford to save for their children's future. One in four saves only rarely or when they can afford it, while half of parents with three or more children say putting money aside is a pipedream. Yet the increasing cost of private and higher education means that families risk serious financial problems in the years ahead, according to a Mintel report today.
( Daily Telegraph, Times )

University funding cited as UK loses out on Nobels
A sharp downturn in Britain's share of Nobel prizes has been caused by chronic under-funding of British universities, millionaire philanthropist Sir Peter Lampl says. Analysis of Nobel prize winners in chemistry, physics, physiology or medicine and economics over the past 100 years found a reversal of fortunes in Britain, Germany and the rest of Europe compared with the US.
( THES, Independent )
Read the THES story here .

Calls for wider debate after GM crops controversy
The controversy over genetically modified crops has shown ministers need to consider far wider issues of nature conservation and farming practices, Sir David King, the government's chief scientist, said yesterday. The call will be made by the government's GM science review panel, which met to discuss the results of the farm-scale trials into GM crops last week.
( Financial Times )

Survey reveals secrets of the deep
The total number of species in the world's oceans could be more than 2 million, according to scientists working on a billion-dollar international effort to document all marine life. The first phase of the Census of Marine Life has recorded 15,304 species of fish and roughly 210,000 marine species of all types. But the total number could be up to 10 times bigger. Leading scientists met at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington yesterday to discuss the 10-year effort to create a comprehensive portrait of ocean life. It names about 160 new fish species each year.
( Daily Telegraph, Times, Guardian, Daily Mail )

Nasa finds little green gems on red planet
Large outcrops of olivine, a gemstone mineral commonly used in jewellery, have been found on Mars, scientists said yesterday. A team of United States researchers led by Todd Hoefen of the US Geological Survey in Denver, Colorado, reported the findings in the journal Science .
( Daily Telegraph )

Worms provide clue to extending human life
A tiny worm may hold the secret to the elixir of life after scientists from the University of California, San Francisco, discovered that they could extend its life span to the equivalent of a human living for 500 years. They report in the journal Nature .

Wills of famous Scots go online
The final wills and testaments of some of Scotland's most famous figures have been made available online for the first time. Every will written in Scotland from 1500 to 1901, including those of Rob Roy, Robert Burns and Robert Louis Stevenson, is featured on a website launched by the National Archives of Scotland:
(Daily Telegraph)

Fluoride 'better than brushing'
MPs have been told by the minister for public health that fluoride in water is better and cheaper than brushing teeth in preventing tooth decay. But Melanie Johnson denied yesterday that she had advocated throwing toothbrushes away. Miss Johnson has sent MPs a letter enclosing a detailed document from Sir Liam Donaldson, the chief medical officer for England, and Raman Bedi, the chief dental officer, in favour of fluoridation.
( Daily Telegraph )

Police hearing over honorary degree
A female detective chief superintendent faces misconduct charges for receiving an honorary degree after allegedly befriending an elderly professor. Ellie Baker, 50, was suspended by West Midlands Police last November.
( Daily Telegraph )

Education experts report on Clarke's first year
Could do better? Comments collected from the world of education on the Charles Clarke's performance in office.
( Daily Telegraph )

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