Today's news

February 3, 2004

Law schools favour admission tests over A levels

Eight of Britain's most prestigious universities are to sideline A levels as an entry requirement for law courses from November and set their own admission tests instead. The move follows decisions by Oxford and Cambridge universities and some London colleges to set similar tests to determine applications to medical and dentistry courses. The eight universities are Birmingham, Bristol, Cambridge, Durham, East Anglia, Nottingham, Oxford and University College London. The two-hour tests will involve multiple choice questions and short essays, and also test understanding of English.
( Independent, Times, Daily Telegraph )

Students to join lecturers in week of strikes
Leaders of the Association of University Teachers and National Union of Students are planning a week of strike action later this month in protest at top-up fees and plans to modernise lecturers' pay. The campaign will include a shutdown of all UK campuses on 25 February, with lecturers and students mounting pickets to stop colleagues taking or going into lectures. The AUT will take a final decision over the strikes next Thursday, when it receives results of a nationwide ballot. The NUS announced its plans yesterday, which include demonstrations in support of the lecturers' pay dispute in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, as well as walkouts over top-up fees, which will only affect English universities.
( Independent )

Number of students filing for bankruptcy triples
The number of students writing off loan debts by declaring themselves bankrupt more than tripled in 2003, government figures showed yesterday. According to the Student Loans Company, 899 students filed for bankruptcy last year, compared with 6 in 2002.
( Independent )

Supporters win at mind games
Being a football fan can be good for your mental health regardless of whether your team is winning or losing, according to psychologists at the University of Northumbria. They discovered that supporting a team through thick and thin increases fans' communication skills, motivation, and gives them a sense of belonging. However, a separate study at Nottingham Trent University found that benefits could be lost when a team was relegated, with some fans developing the clinical symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.
( Times )

Historian who rose to the pinnacle of academe dies
Lord Bullock, who wrote the first major complete biography of Hitler, and who went on to build St Catherine's College, Oxford, died on February 2, 2004, aged 89.
( Times, Guardian, Daily Telegraph )
Full obituary available in Netgazette .

Comment: university funding of part-time education
Open University vice-chancellor Brenda Gourley calls on the government to top-up part-time education too.
( Independent )

Can parents avoid student fees?
Brief views on the disclosure of parental income and Irreconcilable Parental Estrangement.
( Daily Mail )

How the successful make it to the top
Leading scientist Susan Greenfield, professor of synaptic psychology at Oxford University and director of the Royal Institution, talks candidly about what made her a high-flier.
( Evening Standard )

Earn while you learn: the alternative to fees and debt
Feature on three people who have signed up for Modern Apprenticeships.
( Evening Standard )

Freedom of information act alert
Schools, universities and publicly owned companies have to have their lists of documents ready for inspection and available by February 29 under the provisions of the 2002 act.
( Times )

Summer heatwave matches climate predictions
A scientist at the University of Fribourg in Switzerland who analysed the characteristics of the 2003 heatwave says it is unlike anything seen in the past 100 years and closely matches what researchers think will happen with greater frequency later this century.
( Guardian )

Brain scan sheds light on speech secrets
An expert in speech neurobiology at University College London has discovered that the brain takes speech and separates it into words and "melody". The  words are then shunted over to the left temporal lobe for processing, while the melody is channelled to the right side of the brain, a region more stimulated by music. Meanwhile, a Cambridge University team is investigating what it is about language that makes us prick up our ears and concentrate on listening.
( Guardian )

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