Today's news

June 15, 2004

Head calls for higher education shake-up
Universities and businesses should be given powers to set public examinations instead of exam boards, the chairman of the Headmasters and Headmistresses Conference said yesterday. Martin Stephen said that universities should decide the criteria for students seeking admission to degree courses instead of relying on A levels set by the three examination boards. He added that vocational qualifications would also achieve more credibility if employers were involved in drawing them up.
( Times )

Top degree may not reap great reward
Graduates earn more than people without a degree despite the recent dramatic expansion of higher education, but a degree from a prestigious university is no guarantee of greater financial returns, according to research funded by the Higher Education Careers Services Unit. The study tracked 4,500 young people who graduated in 1995 over seven years in the jobs market and compared their experience with previous groups.
( Financial Times )

Keen beans from overseas stop skills gap
Top companies are turning to recruits from eastern Europe and the developing world because of a shortage of well-qualified British graduates, according to members of the Association of Graduate Recruiters. Representatives from industries including banking, transport and the utilities say that a global market in graduates is exposing a serious lack of home-grown candidates with technical skills and foreign languages.
( Financial Times )

Travel writer Bryson wins science prize
The £10,000 Aventis science book prize last night went to Bill Bryson, a travel writer with almost no background in science. The American-born author won the award for A Short History of Nearly Everything , beating professional scientists and communicators such as the biologist Matt Ridley, shortlisted for the fourth time for his highly praised Nature Via Nurture , and the bookies' favourite, Armand Marie Leroi, the presenter of the Channel 4 series Mutants and author of the book of the same name.
( Guardian, Daily Telegraph, Financial Times )

Tests bring vaccine for cocaine addiction closer
Drug treatment charities yesterday welcomed the first scientific evidence that a vaccine against cocaine addiction could provide an extra line of defence in fighting drug abuse. Early trial results from a small-scale study at Yale Medical School in the US show that the vaccine prevented three-quarters of a group of nine recovering addicts from relapsing into cocaine use. In a second group of 13 regular users, it helped 58 per cent to quit and remain cocaine-free for the 12 weeks of the study.
( Guardian )

Marine parks could solve global fish crisis
For less than £8 billion a year governments could protect declining world stocks of fish in a series of marine nature reserves around the globe, British scientists report today. Andrew Balmford of Cambridge University, Callum Roberts of the University of York and colleagues report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that that figure would be enough to protect 30 per cent of the oceans from all fishing. Such an investment could create more than 1 million jobs and would safeguard, and eventually increase, a global fish catch worth up to £44 billion a year.
( Guardian )

Meet the president
Eric Thomas, vice-chancellor of Bristol University, talks about how the job should change.
( Guardian )

Views from the eastern front
Roderick Floud reports on the state of higher education in the new members of the European Union.
( Guardian )

What's Welsh for va-va voom?
A meeting with Garel Rhys, Cardiff University professor and leading expert on the UK's motor industry.
( Guardian )

Battle fatigue
Exams leave college staff as tired and tetchy as students.
( Guardian )

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