Today's news

June 14, 2004

Celebrating students beat ban on trashing
An attempt to curb the wilder excesses of Oxford students as they mark the end of their finals has ended in utter failure, with one college dean describing the scene outside his window last week as "a warzone". A code of conduct, backed by on-the-spot fines, was drawn up by the university after it almost lost control of last summer's celebrations. "The problem is clearly not solved," said Richard Lofthouse, dean of Corpus Christi College, which lies on the front line of celebrations. "It is evident that the throwing of food has been technically planned." The university, which is not releasing figures on the number of fines it has imposed, is facing appeals from many victims.
( Times )

How Santa's reindeer can lead to Oxbridge
The eccentricities of Oxbridge interviews were underlined today by the publication of some of the questions asked of students who applied this year. More than 10,000 students with straight As were rejected by Oxford and Cambridge in 2003. This year is even more competitive judging by some of the questions, which are designed to set apart lateral and creative thinkers from more conventional types. They include "name Santa's reindeers", asked of a teenager wanting to study medicine, and "why do people want economic growth if money doesn't make them happy?", asked of a would-be economics student at Cambridge.
( Daily Telegraph )

Learning new language helps reduce brain decay
People who are bilingual seem to suffer less mental decline as a result of ageing than those who speak one language, say Canadian researchers at York University, Toronto. Their study is published today in the journal Psychology and Ageing .
( Daily Telegraph, Times )

Society launches National Insect Week
The Royal Entomological Society will be exhibiting a collection of rare watercolours of insects dating from the 17th and 18th centuries to mark National Insect Week, which begins today. "It's a public relations exercise on behalf of insects," says Mike Claridge, professor emeritus at Cardiff University and a fellow of the society.
( Guardian )

Think-tank to back skills councils
Sixteen experts have been recruited by the Government-aided Sector Skills Development Agency to advise a network of 24 employer-led sector skills councils. Members of the think-tank include David Ashton, founder of Leicester University's Centre for Labour Market Studies; Derek Bosworth of Melbourne University and emeritus professor at the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology; John Burgoyne of Lancaster University; Lorraine Dearden of the Institute of Fiscal Studies; Andy Dickerson of Warwick University, and Hilary Steedman of the London School of Economics and Political Science.
( Daily Telegraph )

Henley hunts for new principal
Henley Management College has begun its hunt for a new principal more than 18 months before the incumbent, Stephen Watson, finishes his term of office, in December 2005.
( Financial Times )

Where we're coming from
Letter: Colin Flood, teacher of Classics, laments the intention by AQA, the country's the biggest exam board, to cease examining in Latin and Classical Greek at both GCSE and AS/A2 level.
( Daily Telegraph )

- Inga-Stina Ewbank, the Shakespeare and Ibsen scholar, died on June 7, aged 71. ( Independent ) - Desmond Slay, a leading authority on Icelandic literature, died on May 20 aged 76. ( Daily Telegraph )

Higher education items in the weekend press
- Undergraduates no longer have to put up with landlords who let dirty and dangerous digs. ( Sunday Times )
- Chris Woodhead will say next week that the government is far from making Oxford a better place to study. ( Sunday Times )
- Letter about Magdalen College burning a boat in celebration of its victory in the summer eights. (Times, June 12)
- The Northwest claims to be a serious rival to London in attracting graduates. ( Guardian , June 12)

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