Today's news

June 1, 2004

Student leaps from train to hitch lift to exam
A desperate student leapt from a stranded train yesterday and begged a stranger to drive him the remaining 25 miles to a crucial finals exam. The 32-year-old feared that he would ruin his future if he missed the physics exam at the University of Sussex. A 72-year-old former RAF serviceman, whose home backs onto the railway line at Hayward's Heath, got him there on time. The train eventually arrived after the exam had begun.
( Daily Mail )

Universities weave web to catch plagiarised essays
Students who plagiarise essays from the internet could soon have their cheating exposed if a scheme announced by universities yesterday takes off. The Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen and Edinburgh University are among those testing out a plagiarism detection service devised by a group of computer specialists from UK universities. They hope to curb the growing trend of students cheating in their coursework, driven by an increase in the number of internet sites offering customised essays for sale.
( Independent ) 

Loophole allows human-animal cell experiments
A loophole in Britain's embryo research laws is allowing scientists to create human-animal hybrid cells without the need for a licence. The restrictive wording of the government embryology watchdog's legal remit means that it has no power to regulate experiments in which human and animal material are fused to create new cells. Experiments that create hybrids only require a licence from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority in cases where human and animal sperm or eggs are fused directly, or in those where the result is an embryo with the potential to develop into a human being.
( Times )

Plain chocolate fix reduces risk of heart attack
A study by scientists in America has found that chocolate high in flavanoids - a plant extract common to dark chocolate - improves the function of blood vessels and prevents the build-up of cholesterol. The research is published in the Journal of The American College of Nutrition .
( Times , Independent )

Turks, not Drake, defeated Armada, says researcher
For centuries, Sir Francis Drake has been credited with dispatching the Spanish Armada in July 1588. But yesterday, Jerry Brotton, a lecturer at Royal Holloway College, London, claimed that Queen Elizabeth's protestant throne was saved by a less celebrated ally: the Turkish navy. He told the Hay literary festival that a hitherto unnoticed letter from Elizabeth's security chief and spymaster, Sir Francis Walsingham, to her ambassador in Istanbul showed that it was Turkish naval manoeuvres rather than Drake's swashbuckling which delivered the fatal blow to the Spanish invasion plans.
( Guardian )

How was it for you?
Investigation of whether the proposed student satisfaction survey will be a useful tool for those choosing universities, or a hopeless waste of effort and money.
( Guardian )

End the mad tea party
David Vincent, pro-vice-chancellor of the Open University likens government treatment of his institution to the tea party in Wonderland where there's always jam tomorrow.
( Independent )

Obituary : David Whitehorn Arnott, scholar of West African languages, died on March 10, aged 88. ( Independent )

Higher education items from the bank holiday weekend
- Jarvis is to pay £120,000 in compensation to students at Lancaster University after delays in finishing halls of residence and complaints about standards. ( Financial Times , May 31)
- Researchers at the Institute of Health Studies in Oxford have found that the results of published clinical trials cannot be taken at face value. ( Sunday Times , Times , May 31)
- An international school in India has claimed that non-British students are being given preference at British universities. ( Sunday Times )
- Scientists at Oxford's Institute of Molecular Medicine have been accused by a Kenyan scientist of illegally obtaining the blood of African Aids orphans for illicit research. ( Observer )
- Letter from a parent suggesting that three-year degrees should be condensed into two years to cut down on costs. ( Mail on Sunday )
- Letters on scientific research and open access journals. ( Financial Times , May 29)
- More students are getting panic attacks and exams are frequently the trigger. ( Daily Telegraph , May 29)

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