Today's news

April 14, 2004


Labour dismantling state schools, warns NUT leader
The government is "hell bent" on dismantling the state education system, Doug McAvoy, outgoing leader of the National Union of Teachers declared yesterday in his final conference address. He said that schools will be turned into competing chains of supermarkets where parents will have to pay if they want a premium product. Just as students were going to have to pay top-up fees, so parents would have to contribute to the cost of their children's education.
( Daily Telegraph, Independent, Guardian, Times )

The part-time losers in a learning lottery
Higher education institutions that deal exclusively with part-time students will miss out on the gains that other universities will make from top-up fees. In contrast to full-time students, part-timers will still have to pay their fees upfront. If the average part-time fee rose to £1,500 a year - half the rate that full-time universities are permitted to charge - most students would find it impossible to pay. There will be a grant for the poorest, but is capped at £575 a year.
( Times )

Student midwives denied maternity pay lose claim
Three student midwives who were denied paid maternity leave while training lost their sexual discrimination case yesterday. Despite ruling against the three women, the Central London Employment Tribunal was highly critical of the Department of Health's £6,000 annual bursary scheme which allows for 60 days of sick leave but stops payment immediately if a student takes maternity leave. The tribunal pointed out that before the midwife training scheme was made more academic in 2000, trainees were considered employees with maternity rights under employment law.
( Daily Telegraph )

People born in May can count their lucky stars
Richard Wiseman, a psychologist based at the University of Hertfordshire, has concluded that there is a direct link between the time of year people are born and how lucky they feel. People born in May are more likely to think themselves lucky in life, according to his study published today.( Daily Telegraph, Guardian )

Bedbug infestations in UK on the rise
An outbreak of pesticide-resistant bedbugs is confounding experts who believed the blood-sucking insect had been eradicated from Britain in the 1980s. Research published by the Institute of Biology has revealed a rise in infestations in hotels and hostels throughout London. The expert who carried out the research blames modern lifestyles for the rise in infestations.
( Independent, Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail, Times )

Mutant mouse may be key to longevity
Yoda the mutant dwarf mouse has just celebrated his fourth birthday to become, according to a US specialist in ageing, the world's oldest living mouse. The dwarf mouse, from a naturally-occurring strain, lives in quiet seclusion and in the pathogen-free rest home for geriatric mice belonging to Richard Miller of the Geriatrics Centre at the University of Michigan medical school. Yoda has some way to go to win the Methuselah Mouse Prize for the oldest lab mouse but the record is currently held by GHR-KO 11C, which died last year aged four years, 11 months and three weeks at Southern Illinois University. A pet mouse called Fritzy, from Edgbaston, near Birmingham, died at the age of seven years seven months in 1985.
( Daily Telegraph, Times )

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