Today's news

July 12, 2004

Scientists attack Prince's little grey cells
The Prince of Wales received a stinging rebuke from the scientific community yesterday after declaring in a Sunday newspaper that ongoing research into nanotechnology could result in a thalidomide-style disaster. His intervention prompted nanoscientists to say that he was a danger to progress and had a "primal fear of technology". The timing of yesterday’s intervention was being viewed as a pre-emptive strike before the Royal Society and Royal Academy of Engineering release the results of their independent study on the subject.
Times, Guardian

Anger at US ban on Aids scientists
The US government came under scathing attack from senior members of the medical establishment yesterday for blocking scientists from attending the biennial International Aids conference that opened in Bangkok. The US government has sent only a fraction of its usual contingent of scientists. Many suspect that a rift between the US and Aids activists who oppose America's approach to the global pandemic lies behind the action.

Women's college climbs Cambridge league
Cambridge's oldest women-only college, Newnham, is the fastest improving in the university for academic performance, this year's exam results show. Newnham has risen from 21st to 13th in this year's Tompkins league table of the university's 2004 exam results.

Graduate talent paying off for companies
Graduates contribute about three times the cost of their salary to companies that hire talented people direct from university and nurture them as they rise through the ranks, research shows. A "phenomenal" level of investment is made by companies with graduate recruitment programmes, the study for the Association of Graduate Recruiters found. But this is repaid by an estimated £1 billion of "added value" to its member organisations.
Financial Times

Scientists say top medical laboratory is under threat
An independent task force established by the Medical Research Council has rejected a plan to replace the National Institute for Medical Research in Mill Hill, North London, with a smaller and cheaper version in Cambridge after overwhelming opposition from staff. The year-long review has instead recommended moving it to a site in Central London. But many scientists remain concerned that this relocation project will be scuppered by costing as much as £200 million, and that the institute will end up closing. They said they were "dismayed" that refurbishing the Mill Hill premises had not been considered as a fallback option.

Inquiry into chemistry crisis as more universities drop subject
Education Secretary Charles Clarke will this week ask the Higher Education Funding Council for England to conduct an inquiry into the developing crisis over chemistry provision in universities. The Secretary of State for Education will ask the Higher Education Funding Council for England, the body in charge of university financing, to set up the investigation in the wake of three more universities axing chemistry in the past year.

Rowdy pupils make science dangerous
Bad behaviour by pupils is forcing many schools to abandon practical science lessons because of the risk of accidents, a Save British Science survey has shown. Simon Campbell, president-elect of the Royal Society of Chemistry, said that the loss of practical lessons was making it more difficult to interest children in science subjects.
Times, Daily Telegraph  

It's handy having a BA take care of the DIY
A look at London-based firm 0800handyman, one of a host of companies helping white-collar graduate workers to swap their briefcases for toolboxes. No fewer than ten of the company's 15 handymen are graduates, several from Oxbridge.

Higher education items in the weekend press
- It has emerged that Exeter University has introduced rules to keep out bright pupils from private schools. Mail on Sunday
- Some universities are favouring fee-paying foreign students by setting them lower A-level grades than British applicants. Sunday Times
- Whether they are burger flipping or fruit picking, students will be better off with a degree of tax awareness. Independent , July 11
- Lincoln University's new student accommodation scheme offers solid returns and tax advantages. The Business , July 11
- St John's College, Oxford, has bought the Eagle and Child pub on St Giles. It already owns the Lamb and Flag pub opposite. Times , July 10
- Why the UK has such a dismal record of turning students into business tycoons. Guardian , July 10

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