Today's news

May 5, 2004

Cambridge plans three new colleges
The University of Cambridge is planning to build three new colleges. The local council has agreed to put the university's proposal into the draft local plan to be debated over the next year. The university says the development is essential to its future. Annual applications for the 3,000 places at Cambridge have risen from 13,700 to 15,000 in the last year; more than 5,000 of the rejected applicants possessed at least three A grades. New housing, sufficient to accommodate a doubling of the academic staff, is also earmarked for the 140-acre green-belt site in west Cambridge.
( Times, Guardian, Independent, Daily Mail )

Student debt up by 10%, says survey
Barclays Bank says that student debt rose by 10 per cent last year, putting the average university graduate £12,069 in the red. Graduate debt has increased by nearly 500 per cent since the annual survey began in 1994. The bank warned that if these trends continued, students could be graduating with debts as high as £33,708 after a three-year degree by 2010, taking into account the government's plans to start charging variable tuition fees of up to £3,000 a year from 2006.
( Guardian, Times, Independent, Daily Mail )

Lecturers' leader lays into pension shake-up
John Wilkin, a senior statistics lecturer at Coventry University is to challenge the government over raising the pensionable age for academics when he becomes vice-president of the UK's largest lecturers' union at the end of the month. Mr Wilkin, currently chairman of Natfhe's West Midlands region, a member of the union's national executive council and one of the union's higher education national negotiators, also plans to ensure new pay deals in both the further and higher education sectors are properly implemented.
( Guardian )

A levels too easy for Eton, say inspectors
A level exams are too easy for Eton, the Independent Schools Inspectorate said in a report published yesterday. Last year, three-quarters of the 882 A levels taken by 259 Etonians were awarded a grade A, and almost all the rest a B.
( Daily Telegraph )

Why men prefer hourglass figure
The results of a study by biologists from the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland, show a clear link between fertility hormones and female body shape. This suggests that the male predilection for slim women with large breasts is a response to evolutionary indications of greatest possible reproductive potential. Details are published today in the Proceedings of the Royal Society .
( Times, Daily Mail )

Traffic forces birds to make a racket
The constant din of traffic is forcing nightingales in cities to sing so loudly that their songs are technically breaking legal noise levels, researchers at the Free University in Berlin have found. The research is published in this month's Journal of Animal Ecology .
( Times )

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