Today's news

August 17, 2004

A-level grades a lottery, says expert
Examination results should be treated with caution as an unreliable and insufficient guide to youngsters' overall ability, according to research conducted by Nottingham University for the Association of Teachers and Lecturers. The report, written by Professor Roger Murphy, comes as the annual row over whether A levels are becoming too easy erupted amid predictions that this year's results will show another record-breaking pass rate.
Guardian, Independent, Daily Telegraph

Scots call for independent exam statistics
An independent body should be set up to produce Scotland's exam statistics free from any political interference, the Scottish National Party said yesterday. The call came after The Scotsman revealed that pass rates for this year's Highers went up largely because fewer pupils sat the tests, with the less academically able being advised to take intermediate exams instead.

University system cheats students and lecturers
Peter Higgins, professor of pure mathematics at Essex University, writes that good standards have been undermined by the demand of weaker students for an easy academic life.
Daily Telegraph

On your marks
Even if you’re A-level grades are not what you hope for, a university place is still within reach, says Marlon Gomes, head of admissions at Queen Mary, University of London.

Market graders
Report on whether the exam boards are becoming less of a public service as they turn a 19th-century cottage industry into a modern business.

Mind the gap
Passportless, luggageless and lost: advice to gap-year students on coping with the perils of travel.

Not-so-rough guide to student gap years
The old-fashioned view of a gap year was that there was little point in travelling far and wide unless you a) got lost in the jungle for three days with no insect repellant or b) had to make your way from Murmansk to Johannesburg armed only with a fiver and a corned beef sandwich. Now, it seems, things have changed. Gap years are super-organised and everything, if you want it, can be laid on a plate.

How to refurbish a university for nothing
Peter Knight, vice-chancellor of the University of Central England, reveals a secret way of refurbishing an entire university at no extra expense: keep moving academics into the rooms occupied by the estates department.

- Sir Godfrey Hounsfield, the Nobel Prize winner who conceived the idea for a CAT scanner on a weekend ramble in the country, died on August 12, aged 84. Daily Telegraph
- Wolfgang Mommsen, the German historian who brought academics together to further the understanding of his country's past, died on August 11, aged 73. Guardian

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