Today's news

September 13, 2004

Clarke backs 'fairer' university entry idea
The Government will tomorrow support a radical shake-up of outdated university admissions, backing proposals for students to submit their applications after they have received their A-level results. Education Secretary Charles Clarke is expected to say that he supports the plan, provided it can be implemented without disruption to the academic year for schools and universities, and without reducing teaching time for A-level students. Proposals for a post-qualification application system will be the centrepiece of a report published tomorrow by a Government-appointed review, headed by Steven Schwartz, vice-chancellor of Brunel University, charged with devising a fairer and more transparent system of university admissions.

Survey reveals sharp decline in teenage mental health
The mental health of teenagers has sharply declined in the last 25 years and the chances that 15-year-olds will have behavioural problems such as lying, stealing and being disobedient, have more than doubled. The rate of emotional problems such as anxiety and depression has increased by 70 per cent among adolescents, according to the biggest time trend study conducted in Britain. The study, Time Trends in Adolescent Mental Health, to be published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry in November, looked at three generations of 15-year-olds, in 1974, 1986 and 1999. The team of researchers argues that the increases cannot be explained by the rise in divorce and single parenthood.

BL pressured to return Afghan scrolls
The British Library is facing calls to return ancient birchbark scrolls, described as the Buddhist Dead Sea Scrolls, to Afghanistan amid accusations that they were smuggled from the country in the early 1990s. The collection of Kharosthi manuscript fragments - the earliest known surviving Buddhist scrolls - was purchased with help from an anonymous donor by the library from a British dealer ten years ago. The library concedes that virtually nothing is known about their provenance and now a documentary by the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation - made with David Hebditch, a British documentary-maker, and to be shown in Britain - is challenging its right to ownership.

Medical journals force drugs companies to reveal all
Cancer researchers have welcomed the decision by a dozen medical journals to refuse to publish the results of drug company trials unless they publish all of them. The idea is to flush out results that drug companies would rather bury because they show no benefits, or actual harm, from their products.

A better alternative to top-up fees
"I would give the Tory system a First for political skill, but a 2.2 for wisdom." George Trefgarne comments on Tory plans to abolish top-up fees.
Daily Telegraph

Higher education items in the weekend press
- Recommendations will be made to have students take A levels at Easter. Sunday Telegraph
- Students from under-privileged backgrounds may get priority for university places. Mail on Sunday
- Guide to the best and worst performing universities. Sunday Times
- A look at whether university awards are being cheapened by handouts to soap actors and pop stars. Sunday Times
- Universities have attacked the Tories plans for higher education funding. Financial Times , September 11
- Feature about binge drinking in Nottingham. Guardian , September 11

- William McKane, the distinguished biblical scholar, died on September 4 2004, aged 83. Independent
- Jack Carnochan, the pioneering British phonetician who worked and published primarily on the sound systems of major west African languages, died May 7 2004, aged 86. Guardian

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