Today's news

September 15, 2004

Britain slips down education league table
The proportion of youngsters who drop out of the British education system is one of the highest in the developed world, according to an international study published yesterday. But British graduates' increase in earning power is among the highest in the world, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's annual report concluded. Britain now ranks 24th, with 75.3 per cent of students aged 15 to 19 in education, compared with 76.1 per cent the previous year. It was overtaken by Slovakia. Only Mexico, Portugal and Turkey have worse records. The report also showed that Britain has lost some of its appeal to foreign students. British universities lost out to institutions in Iceland, South Korea, New Zealand and Sweden in the battle for lucrative overseas students. But university graduates earn 59 per cent more than those with only school-level qualifications in the UK. This is the fifth largest earnings boost of any OECD country. It is only higher in Hungary (110 per cent), the United States (86 per cent), the Czech Republic (79 per cent) and Portugal (78 per cent).
Independent, Guardian, Financial Times

Graduates learn a high-paying lesson for the future
Fears of a graduate glut have prompted severe criticism of the Government's aim to have 50 per cent of all school-leavers taking part in further education by 2010. Analysts say, however, that figures released yesterday show that the demand for further education is growing and boosting world growth and prosperity. While more people than ever are studying for degrees, however, fewer of the OECD's 1.9 million students are coming to Britain.

Oxford seeks animal rights ban
Oxford University yesterday asked the High Court to impose an injunction against animal rights protesters, demanding that they effectively be banned from the city centre. The hearing was adjourned until Oct 5 to allow the defendants more time to prepare their case. Mr Justice Simon granted the university a temporary injunction banning protesters from intimidating or harassing its employees.
Daily Telegraph, Financial Times

Nottingham majors in international dimension
The University of Nottingham kicked off the academic year yesterday with a welcome day for its 3,000 new international students. Even as the students were being prepared to deal with the indigenous culture and climate, most of the university's senior managers were in China getting ready to open a new campus in Ningbo. Nottingham claims the biggest group of overseas students of any British university. Last year, they paid £40 million in tuition fees.
Financial Times

Blair calls for UK to lead on climate change
The Prime Minister has called a world scientific conference for next February to decide an upper limit on how much the temperature can rise before the world faces the "catastrophic consequences of climate change". Mr Blair said the idea was to put pressure on the US administration to take action and to include China and India in a programme of cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

Italian births raise hopes for egg-freezing treatment
Thirteen children have been born to couples using frozen eggs in a development that could extend women's reproductive life, Italian scientists reported yesterday. Only 37 per cent of the eggs survived the freezing and thawing process but the researchers from Tecnobios Procreazione in Bologna say they hope to achieve a 75 to 85 per cent survival rate by altering the medium in which the egg is stored.

Gene therapy for 'royal disease'
A gene therapy drug for a common form of haemophilia is expected to begin patient trials within 18 months, raising the prospect of a permanent cure. British scientists have identified a highly promising means of correcting the genetic fault that causes haemophilia B, a disease that affects about 1,100 people in Britain. Ted Tuddenham of Imperial College, London, chairman of the Katharine Dormandy Trust which partly funds the research, said that the trust is today mounting a £5 million appeal to fund further research.

Telescopes join forces to search for life beyond Solar System
British astronomers are to link three of the world's largest robotic telescopes to create a network that will hunt for Earth-like planets with unprecedented power. Michael Bode of Liverpool John Moores University leads the RoboNet project that will provide scientists with around-the-clock coverage of the skies for the first time, by connecting the Liverpool Telescope in the Canary Islands, the Faulkes Telescope North in Hawaii and the Faulkes Telescope South in New South Wales, Australia..

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