Today's news

August 16, 2004

A-level results spark standards row
The annual row over whether A levels are becoming too easy kicked off in earnest yesterday as experts predicted that Thursday's results will show another record-breaking pass rate. Charles Clarke, the Education Secretary, is expected to use the figures to claim that Labour's investment in education is now paying off - with better results and more students gaining university places. With a record 250,000 students taking more than 750,000 subjects, he is likely to argue standards are rising.

Archaeologist uncovers John the Baptist's cave
British archaeologist Shimon Gibson, who has been excavating sites in Israel and the Occupied Territories over many years, has discovered a cave west of Jerusalem with a ritual baptism pool, rock carvings and pottery that he has linked to John the Baptist and his followers. Dr Gibson said the cave contained archaeological remains from the time of the personalities and events described in the Gospels. The findings will be published on Thursday.

Space travel goes sailing
US and Russian scientists are planning the ultimate in fuel-economy travel: they hope to launch a space sailing ship driven only by the pressure of sunlight later this year. Cosmos 1 , an unfurled fan of 15m sails, each far thinner than a dustbin bag but stiffened and coated with mirror material, could be launched from a Russian nuclear missile submarine.

Kerry's daughter wins London scholarship
Veanessa Kerry, daughter of the US presidential candidate John Kerry, has won a Fulbright scholarship to study in London next year. The Harvard Medical School student will take a masters degree in health and economics at the London School of Economics and the London School of Tropical Medicine.
Daily Telegraph, Independent

Lamda alumni hope streets are paved with gold
Alumni of the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art are hoping to raise £100,000 for the college by retracing Shakespeare's journey from Stratford to London.

Higher education items in the weekend press
- The Saudi embassy is advising its citizens to boycott British universities following concerns over fees, poor teaching and financial irregularities. Observer

- A league table of male-female ratios at British universities has been compiled as part of this year's Push Guide to Which University. Mail on Sunday

- Bristol University tutors have been warned about discussing admissions with anyone calling to say that they have missed their grades. Sunday Times

- Universities are accepting students they know will fail courses to fill places and claim tuition fees. Sunday Telegraph

- A-level students can now keep retaking the exam until they get a decent grade. Mail on Sunday

- Education Secretary Charles Clarke is backing headteachers in their quest to end the procedure of awarding university places on predicted grades. Independent on Sunday

- A-level grades are expected to rise again this year, prompting accusations of dumbing down and making university admissions difficult. Sunday Times

- University admissions are to be overhauled, with tutors being told the actual grades that applicants achieve. Daily Telegraph , August 14

- Scientists at Oxford University are launching a study to discover the genetic make-up of the British people. Observer

- Keele sociologists have revealed that middle-class children remain financially dependent until they are 24. Daily Mail , August 14

- Letters regarding the licence granted to Newcastle University to clone human embryos. Times , August 14

- Deborah Orr writes that students can no longer afford to behave like students. Independent , August 14

- Letter stating that university is a doddle if your daddy's rich. Sunday Times

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