Today's news

August 24, 2004

Funding chiefs launch course probe
University funding chiefs have launched an investigation into unpopular undergraduate courses, as concern grows that students are abandoning traditional disciplines. The probe by the Higher Education Funding Council for England is looking at how minority subjects can be supported financially. It will be used to formulate policy on protecting strategic topics such as physics and chemistry. The move was welcomed yesterday by academics worried about "shapeless" university expansion.
Financial Times

Purvis to give Oxford broadcast lectures
The former ITN chief executive Stewart Purvis is to deliver next year's News International broadcast media lectures to students at Oxford University. Mr Purvis, who is now chair of TV journalism at City University, will give four lectures early next year in his role as News International visiting professor of broadcast media.

American studies falls from favour
American studies, a once popular subject, has fallen victim to a mixture of under-funding and the vagaries of adolescent fashion. As trendy as psychology or law a generation ago, demand has fallen to the point where several universities are curtailing or closing their degree programmes, according to Simon Newman, chairman of the British Association for American Studies.
Financial Times

Four days in California
More than 5,000 US sociologists, plus a few foreign scholars, have held their largest and most vibrant annual convention for years in San Francisco. The profession's centre of gravity is moving left and sociologists are finally challenging the intellectual stranglehold of economists. There is a drive to inject ethical standards into the analysis of what most agree is a US society becoming increasingly polarised beneath its veneer of shared consumerism.

Good grades leads to rush
At least 1,000 people have applied to universities since receiving better A-level grades than expected, the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service reports. So far about 3,000 students have secured a place through the clearing system.

When technology does the talking
Feature exploring the pros and cons of email, now the most common form of communication between students and lecturers in many universities and colleges.

Research projects win £15m in grants
Grants totalling £15 million have been awarded to research projects into nanotechnology. Twenty-five schemes ranging from anti-corrosion coatings to water purification will benefit from the government funding.
Financial Times

US scientists show blueberry health benefits
Eating blueberries might help protect people against clogged arteries, researchers told the American Chemical Society's conference in Philadelphia yesterday. The fruits contain a compound that works similarly to a drug used to reduce levels of harmful cholesterol, according to tests conducted on rat liver cells by the US department of agriculture.
Guardian, Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph, Times

Caribbean turtles turn up off British shores
Marine ecologists suggest that leatherback turtles spotted in the Irish Sea have not taken a wrong turn but have deliberately headed north to search for food in cooler waters. The new theories on tropical turtle wanderings gleaned by satellite tracking are outlined in the BBC Wildlife magazine.
Guardian, Times

Scientists create 'marathon mouse'
Genetically modified mice that can run twice as far as normal mice have been developed by researchers in the United States and South Korea. The result was a by-product of modifications aimed at creating a mouse with less fat tissue.

Genghis Khan was a scholar
Genghis Khan, long perceived as the world's most notorious barbarian, was, in fact, a highly literate scholar of Taoist philosophy, according to a Chinese historian. Tengus Bayaryn, a professor at Inner Mongolia University, claims to have uncovered evidence that the leader of the Mongolian hordes could read and write.

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