Today's news

July 2, 2004

Higher Education Bill becomes law
University fees of up to £3,000 will be charged from 2006 after the Higher Education Bill cleared its final hurdle in Parliament yesterday. Peers backed down on a number of changes they wanted but which were overthrown by the House of Commons last week, such as restricting the new variable fees to three years of study. Universities will now assess the price to charge for each course. These prices will be included in the prospectus for 2006 entry for students who embark on their A levels this September.
( Times, Guardian, Independent )

Letter: Lords role in the Education Bill
In reply to Baroness Sharp of Guildford (letter, June 28), Lord Renfrew of Kaimsthorn comments that the only supposed concession achieved by the Lords - students undertaking a gap year in 2005 will not have to pay additional fees when they start university in 2006 - will be a significant cost to the universities in forgone fees, and not a charge to the Government: "The universities have gained nothing financially from the debates on the Bill in the Lords. Universities will still have a total annual deficit approaching £1 billion after they have received the income from variable fees."
( Times )

University education gap likely to widen
The gap between rich and poor going to university is likely to widen in Britain as poorer students are deterred from applying because of the costs involved. Academics measured the progress to higher education of households in 7,000 postcodes over eight years across England and Wales. Anna Vignoles, of the Institute of Education, found that between 1995 and 2002 more than three-quarters of students from professional backgrounds studied for a degree, compared with just 14 per cent of those from unskilled backgrounds, a gap that has persisted for 40 years.
( Times Higher, Times )

Cassini gets ringside seat around Saturn
The Cassini space probe ended a seven-year, 2 billion-mile journey yesterday morning as it successfully moved into orbit around Saturn and sent back the first closeups of the rings which have tantalised astronomers for four centuries. The images were hailed by triumphant scientists 934 million miles away in the US, Britain and Europe as a signal for the great adventure about to begin.
( Guardian, Independent, Times, Daily Mail, Financial Times, Daily Telegraph )

Thousands killed by bad drug reactions
Adverse drug reactions may be killing as many as 10,000 people a year in Britain and costing the National Health Service more than £400 million, according to a study in today's British Medical Journal by researchers at Liverpool University.
( Financial Times, Independent )

Skull shows big range in early man
An unusual 930,000-year-old hominid skull, excavated in Kenya, adds to evidence that early humans at this time were varied in size and appearance. The researchers, led by Richard Potts of the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington DC, suggest that a diverse population of large and small people lived at Olorgesailie about 1 million years ago. The discovery is reported in Science .
( Financial Times )

Brain invents illusory sensation
Scientists at University College London and Oxford University report that they have made the first recordings of the human brain's awareness of its own body. The results, published today in the journal Science , show that one area of the brain, the premotor cortex , integrates information from senses to produce a feeling of "ownership" of different parts of the body, or, indeed, a rubber hand.
( Financial Times, Guardian )

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