Today's news

August 10, 2004

Students not as clever as they used to be
More than a third of lecturers consider the academic ability of university students to be worse than it was ten years ago and more than one in four believes that degrees have been devalued as a result. The Times survey of lecturers carried out at 28 universities revealed a widespread view that applicants were often poorly prepared by the A-level system for both science and arts courses.

The end of imagination
Novelist and critic D. J. Taylor comments that we are sending record numbers to university, yet society's regard for intelligence and learning has never been lower.

Spoken English reely matters
Libby Purves says that slang and patois have condemned a generation of children to hopeless inarticulacy and welcomes the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority's guidelines on "oracy", which is to become a school subject this autmn.

Visa fraud crackdown hits China's students
A crackdown on fraudulent applications for student visas in China by the British embassy is barring legitimate students from entering Britain and could leave universities £70 million short this year, Universities UK claimed yesterday. According to UUK, a "significant" number of universities are reporting widespread failure to secure visas for their students. The move puts at risk the attempt - backed by the prime minister - to get more international students into British universities.

Three in five new graduates owe more than £10K
Twice as many students will graduate this year owing more than £10,000 compared with last year, a survey by NatWest bank revealed today. Average graduate debt leapt £4,055 to £12,180. Some 34 per cent of the graduates surveyed did not receive any help from their parents at all this year compared with 25 per cent last year.

Ousted RA chief talks of £800 to fix plug
Brendan Neiland, who resigned on July 28 as Keeper of the Royal Academy Schools amid allegations that tens of thousands of pounds were missing from its art schools' accounts, has alleged that he had discovered misused funds and excessive costs at the world-famous institute. He spoke of his astonishment over the "excessive" prices for in-house quotations for work that needed to be done within the schools.

Gap-year volunteers to get loan discount
Students will be given a discount on their loans if they do voluntary work before starting their degree courses, ministers revealed yesterday. The scheme is part of the Government's efforts to expand volunteering which it sees as a way of restoring a sense of civic duty.
Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph

Building a future with an apprenticeship
Trade courses are enjoying a revival with applications form 16-18 year-olds up by 19 per cent and 25 per cent for 19 year-olds.
Daily Express

Geologists sound alarm at tsunami threat
A collapsing volcano could trigger a vast tidal wave capable of wiping the US Eastern Seaboard off the map as well as bringing devastation to southern England, geologists warned yesterday. They are concerned that an unstable flank of the Cumbre Vieja volcano on the island of La Palma in the Canaries is in danger of sliding into the sea, triggering a 500ft high tsunami. Bill McGuire, of the Benfield Hazard Research Centre at University College London, said close monitoring might give two weeks warning of the disaster. But Spanish funding for a monitoring project dried up several years ago.
Daily Telegraph, Times, Daily Mail, Independent, Guardian

Larkin's lost elegy to dad discovered
A hitherto unknown poem by Philip Larkin has been found languishing in the archives of Leicester University, where he worked as an assistant librarian in the late 1940s. And Yet relates to his famous 12-line elegy on the death of his father in 1948, An April Sunday Brings the Snow . The poem was discovered by Donald Lee, a Larkin enthusiast and a member of the committee of the Larkin Society.

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