Today's news

April 29, 2004

Greenfield fails to make Royal Society shortlist
Baroness Susan Greenfield has not been included on the confidential shortlist for membership of the Royal Society, The Times Higher can reveal. Existing fellows had threatened to resign if the Oxford University professor of physiology was successful, arguing that her work did not merit the honour. Nancy Rothwell, research professor at Manchester University and a specialist in neuroscience, is on the list.
( Times Higher, Independent, Daily Telegraph, Times, Guardian )

Trainee medics top the 'posh league'
Students from the top social groups dominate higher education to such an extent that they account for more than half the students on full-time courses in 13 out of 19 subject areas. The first subject-based analysis of students' backgrounds, conducted by The Times Higher , found that medicine is the "poshest" subject, with almost three-quarters of its students coming from the higher social classes.
( Times Higher, Times ) 

Rise in overseas applications to UK universities
Applications to UK universities from overseas have jumped dramatically, with the latest figures from the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service showing a huge rise in would-be undergraduates from Cyprus, which joins the European Union on Saturday. Applications from the US were up more than 50 per cent and there was increased interest from Pakistan and Nigeria, taking the overall rise in applications from outside the UK up about 15 per cent to more than 49,000.
( Financial Times, Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail )

US universities hit by tighter visa demands
Alarmed by a dramatic decline in overseas applications, US universities are lobbying Washington for changes in student visa requirements. Four university presidents have put forward proposals to streamline the process which, some say, has become bureaucratic and unwelcoming. Foreign applications to US graduate schools have fallen 32 per cent drop this year.
( Financial Times )

Ivy League to have fewer top grades
Elite US Ivy League universities are to clamp down on grade inflation, amid concern that it has become too easy for students to earn straight As. Professors at Princeton, the New Jersey university, took the first step yesterday by agreeing to reduce the number of top grades awarded to students by about 25 per cent. Princeton cited research from other Ivy League schools, as well as Stanford University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Chicago, showing that up to 55 per cent of all grades handed out were As.
( Times )

Oxford appoints society and internet don
Helen Margetts, professor of political science at University College London, has been appointed as Oxford University's first professor of society and the internet. Due to take up the post in October, she plans to focus on e-government.
( Guardian )

Student set up digs in NY library
A second-year student at New York University has described spending eight months sleeping in a library basement because he could not afford campus housing. Steve Stanzak, 20, slept on four chairs, carried a laptop computer, books, clothes in his backpack and kept his toiletries and other clothes in storage lockers. University officials, who found the online journal he kept about his experiences, gave him a free room in a student hall last week.
( Guardian, Daily Telegraph )

Bible student jailed for drug dealing
After winning a place at King's College, London, to study for a degree in Biblical studies, Christine Shephard decided to try heroin so that she could relate to the addicts she wanted to counsel. But the 40-year-old mother-of-six ended up hooked on the drug herself, Maidstone Crown Court was told. She was jailed yesterday for four years for drug dealing after being arrested in a police crackdown.
( Daily Telegraph )

Biological computer to kill cancer cells
Scientists at the Weizmann Institute in Israel have built the world's smallest biological computer and programmed it to identify and kill cancer cells, which could pave to the way to the development of microscopic robots that swim through the bloodstream diagnosing and treating disease. Details of the miniature machine, which uses a handful of DNA molecules as its software, were published online yesterday by the journal Nature .
( Times, Guardian, Daily Telegraph )

Sex, the final frontier for Nasa
Rachel Armstrong, speaking yesterday at a British Interplanetary Society symposium on the human future and space, said that the US space agency Nasa was considering how to deal with the natural urges of astronauts travelling on long journeys such as a three-year trip to Mars, where the six-strong crew would be likely to include two women. A spokesman at Nasa's Johnson Space Centre, where the long-range trips announced by president Bush in January are being planned was nonplussed by the suggestion yesterday.
( Independent )

Migrating turtles use earth's magnetic field
The mystery of the migrating sea turtle may have been solved. Marine biologists from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, working off the coast of Florida, have shown that the marine reptile can use the earth's magnetic field as both a compass and a map. The study is published in the journal Nature .
( Independent )

How humans put the bite on Neanderthals
Evidence that the life of Neanderthal man was short and probably nasty, is published today in Nature . The analysis of the growth rate of Neanderthal front teeth carried out by researchers at the CNRS, Paris, also provides evidence that our human ancestors were responsible for their demise.
( Daily Telegraph )

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