Today's news

August 19, 2004

Top state students miss out on elite places
Some 3,000 state-school pupils are missing out on their rightful place at elite universities to less-qualified students from the independent sector, according to research published this week by the Sutton Trust.
Times Higher, Financial Times, Daily Telegraph

Aquatic domes to dwarf Eden
A unique biomed complex four times the size of the Eden Project is to become a world-class research centre populated with endangered animals, according to plans unveiled by UK scientists. Times Higher

Row over 'no fail' A levels
Record-breaking A-level results released today have provoked a fresh row about the credibility of the 'gold standard' exam, with head teachers declaring the 96 per cent pass rate meant the lower grades of D and E had lost their value.
Guardian, Times, Independent, Daily Telegraph, Financial Times, Daily Mail, Times

Boom in religious studies in wake of September 11
Record numbers of sixth-formers sat A levels in religious studies this summer, according to statistics published yesterday. The dramatic rise was attributed to teenagers’ desire to understand world religions in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Geography, we’d be lost without it
Fewer candidates are taking A-level geography at a time when it has never been more relevant. Independent

A-level pupils to write extra 4,000 word 'super essay'
Students will have to produce a lengthy dissertation in addition to their A levels under plans to break the logjam of applicants to top universities.

Media studies up, sciences down
Pupils are being warned they risk damaging their career prospects as this year's A-level results show increasing rejection of modern languages and physics in favour of so-called 'soft' subjects such as psychology and media studies.
Times Higher, Guardian, Financial Times

Laddish culture celebrating flops wanes
Boys improved their A-level results faster than girls this year, narrowing the gap between the sexes after years of anxiety about male under-achievement in public exams.
Times, Financial Times, Independent

The error that cost student a year
A look at one of hundreds of candidates each year given the wrong grade and unable to confirm their university places. Last year, 1,607 A levels were upgraded after complaints from students.
Daily Telegraph

Making the grade
The Guardian asks if there is any point in an exam, which no one fails but says that no one can seriously hanker for a return to 20 years ago when candidates pursued elaborate courses knowing that 30 per cent of them would fail. The Financial Times says that either the exams should be revalued or a new currency is required. The Times calls for ministers to introduce an A* for the A level. The Independent says that again this year, the overall results of the A-level examinations deserve an A grade in themselves. It congratulates all the pupils, schools and parents of the children.

Mouse may consign exam marker's red pen to history
Future A-level and GCSE candidates could find their papers being marked with the click of a mouse instead of the traditional red Biro after a deal yesterday between one of the country's largest examination boards and RM, the computers for schools group.

Clearing is an imperfect system but many students find it works
Advice for applicants on how to find a place through the clearing system.
The Times

Student bank accounts
Analysis of what rates and freebies banks are offering to students
The Times

Get off to a flying start
Advice for those leaving home for the first time to go to university.
Daily Mirror

Clearing listings supplement
Independent, Daily Mirror, Guardian

Sceptic’s tests support homeopathy
Extremely diluted homeopathic solutions have been found to have some biological effect, according to research by scientists from Britain, France, Belgium, Italy and the Netherlands. The research, which some have called the "holy grail" of homeopathy, was published in the journal, Inflammation Research .

More psychopaths in society
So-called "corporate psychopaths", who share the same character traits as sadistic killers, vastly outnumber those who commit crimes and end up in prison, according to research by Robert Hare of the University of Columbia and honorary professor at the University of Cardiff.
Daily Mail, New Scientist

Antarctic craters reveal asteroid strike
Scientists from Delft University in the Netherlands have used satellites to discover huge craters under the Antarctic ice sheet that were caused by an asteroid as big as the one believed to have wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.
Guardian, Times

Snap, crackle, big bang, it's a new universe
Scientists have devised the smallest number in history to express the chances of a repetition of the Big Bang occurring in a bowl of rice crispies. According to the New Scientist magazine, physicists at the University of Chicago have calculated that the chances of such an event as one divided by ten to the power of 1,056 (roughly, one divided by one followed by 100 million trillion trillion trillion trillion noughts).

Aids research hit by shortage of test animals
A global shortage of primates bred for medical research is hindering international efforts to find a cure for Aids and other diseases, the first worldwide audit of monkey and ape experiments says.

It's teleporting, Jim, but not as we know it
It's not quite Star Trek but Austrian scientists took a step into the future when they 'beamed' the properties of a particle 600 meters underneath the River Danube. The experiment offers the best evidence yet that teleportation is possible - at least at an atomic level.

Child leukemia link to petrol
Children who live next to petrol stations may be four times more likely to contract leukemia, research from the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research has revealed.

Chairman Mao's secret cure for malaria

A synthetic version of a drug used for more than 1,500 years in Chinese medicine is hailed today as a breakthrough in efforts to reduce the million deaths caused each year by malaria.
Daily Telegraph, Financial Times, Times, Daily Mail, Nature

Abused babies sent home to extreme danger
One in three babies who suffers serious physical abuse and is returned home is re-abused within three years, according to research by Ian Butler, Professor of Social Work at Keele University.

John Weightman, critic and French scholar, has died at the age of 88.

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