Today's news

May 18, 2004


Stop moaning, says exams chief
As the exam season began today the head of the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, Ken Boston, made an outspoken attack on those who wail "dumbing down" every year as the pass rates improve, calling it an exclusively British phenomenon, demoralising to young people and debilitating to society.
( Guardian )

Baby boomer universities come of age
Four decades after earning their Royal Charters, the "baby-boomer" universities have come of age as a modern academic elite. Warwick, York, Loughborough and Bath have risen into higher education's premier league to challenge the traditional dominance of Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial College London and University College London. Such "Ivy League" notables as Bristol, Edinburgh, and King's College London already trail in their wake. Other upstarts from from the 1960s generation of universities, including Newcastle, Aston and Essex, are also gaining ground.
( Times )

Competition grows keener for English and history
Demand for places to study English has become so great that all of the top five UK institutions expect a minimum of two A grades and a B at A level. The same is true for history, while all but two of the top ten in history of art seek at least three Bs.
( Times )

Clarke recommends school house systems
Education secretary Charles Clarke yesterday encouraged large state secondary schools to introduce public school-style house systems to help to prevent pupils from feeling overwhelmed by large institutions and falling behind in their studies. American schools had already established the "schools within schools" approach, but it was barely known in the UK, he said.
( Guardian )

Miliband outlines life lessons of summer
Summer schools for clever children are helping to smash the "old boys network" that governs who gets ahead in life, David Miliband, the school standards minister is expected to claim today to coincide with the publication of an Ofsted report on summer schools. The report hailed the government's summer academies a success, but found that 400 of the 900 places available last year were unfilled.
( Guardian )

Learning and Skills Council calls in branding agency
The Learning and Skills Council, Britain's biggest quango, has announced that it will be rebranding.
( Guardian )

Tapping the new alumni
Graham Henderson, vice-chancellor of the University of Teesside, says that endowment fundraising is not just for the rich institutions. New universities can get a lot out of it too.
( Guardian )

Where have all the young men gone?
Investigation into the growing gender gap that is appearing in UK higher education.
( Guardian )

Praising profit-making Arizona
What the UK can learn from a university where everyone pays fees and academics do little research.
( Guardian )

Student law supplement
Sixteen pages of wise counsel for would-be lawyers.
( Times )

Dirty homes bug hygiene scientists
Scientists at the International Scientific Forum on Home Hygiene today launched a major demolition of the "hygiene hypothesis" which suggests that our clean, sterile modern homes could be a cause of rising allergies in the UK, and warn that tolerating dirt could lead to a rise in harmful bugs and infectious diseases. While hand-washing and other hygiene measures can prevent infections, the scientists say that there is no evidence that too much cleanliness in the home or personal hygiene contributes to allergies.
( Guardian )

Brain scans prove teenagers are children at heart
Researchers at the US National Institutes of Mental Health in Bethesda, Maryland, US, have found that the part of the brain involved with higher reasoning is the last to mature, which could explain teenage angst and sullen behaviour. They report their findings in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences .
( Independent )

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