Today's news

September 8, 2004

Tories to scrap fees but increase loans
The Conservative party will today promise to stick to its plans to abolish top-up fees but make students pay commercial rates of interest on their student loans, should they win the next general election. The fully-costed details of the plans are expected later, but speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme this morning the shadow education secretary, Tim Collins, claimed the plans would raise as much money for the universities as the government's plans for top-up fees, but leave students better off. The higher education minister, Alan Johnson, however, called the plans "massively unfair", while the Liberal Democrats' Phil Willis said they would see "poorer students being priced out of university". (Tim Collins explains his party's policy in tomorrow's Times Higher .)
Guardian online

Blakemore defends use of GM tests
Scientists are making more use of genetically modified animals because of their huge potential in medical research, Colin Blakemore, chief executive of the Medical Research Council said yesterday. Speaking at the British Association's science festival in Exeter, Professor Blakemore, said that the apparent increase in animal experimentation was exaggerated by an anomaly in the way the statistics were compiled. Professor Blakemore said: "You have to set a small increase in animal procedures this year against the background of a 50 per cent reduction since the 1970s. In the long run I expect the number of animals used in research to continue to fall."
Financial Times, Daily Telegraph

Lincoln hit by fake degree inquiry
Greek students at the University of Lincoln are being advised by their government to move to other universities following a scandal over fake degrees in Israel. The Greek authorities are refusing to recognise Lincoln degrees pending the outcome of an Israeli investigation into the improper issuing of the university's degrees in Israel five years ago. Lincoln University said it was aware that Greece had delayed the validation of degrees, but was surprised students were being advised to change university. Some 24,000 Greek students study in the UK every year - the largest group from any EU country.
Guardian online

Clean air targets missed, professor tells Britain
Britain has no chance of meeting targets for cutting air pollution because ministers have failed to deliver on their promises to reduce road traffic, a government air quality adviser said yesterday. European Union objectives for curbing emissions of two pollutants linked to thousands of deaths every year are now certain to be missed, according to Mike Pilling, of the University of Leeds. While air quality has improved over the past few decades - largely because of new technology such as catalytic converters on vehicle exhausts - recent progress has been too slow, Professor Pilling told the British Association Festival of Science at the University of Exeter.
Times, Guardian, Financial Times, Independent, Daily Telegraph

Lunar probe ushers in ion-engine age
A European spacecraft powered by a Star Trek-style engine has begun its final approach to the Moon, on a mission to test new technology that could cut years off the flight time to other planets. Smart-1 , which will enter orbit around the Moon on November 15 and begin photographing its dark side, is the most advanced probe to be fitted with an ion drive propulsion system. The revolutionary thrusters are ten times more efficient than traditional rockets and are widely considered to represent the future of space travel.
Times, Guardian, Daily Telegraph

Rare Viking cemetery found in Cumbria
England's only known Viking burial ground was hailed yesterday as one of the country's most important archaeological finds. The site, near the village of Cumwhitton, Cumbria, yielded weapons, spurs, a drinking horn, a bridle, firemaking materials, a copper alloy belt fitting and jewellery including a jet bracelet. The bodies of four men and two women, dating to the 10th century, were also discovered, by a metal detector enthusiast, Peter Adams. The only other known Viking cemetery is at Ingleby, Derbyshire, but there the bodies were cremated. Archaeologists went to the Cumbria site after Mr Adams found two copper brooches. The grave of the Viking woman was found below them, in excavations by Oxford Archaeology North and English Heritage.
Guardian, Daily Mail, Times

Touching   anniversary for DNA scientist
Sir Alec Jeffreys, the scientist who discovered DNA fingerprinting in a laboratory at the University of Leicester in 1984, today celebrates the 20th anniversary of the revolutionary technique that has helped solve numerous crimes and led to massive advances in medical research.
Scotsman

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