Today's news

October 1, 2004

Oxford scientists set for flotation windfall
Five Oxford University scientists are to become paper millionaires with the flotation of a company that genetically modifies zebra fish and fruit flies in the search for life-saving drugs. Vastox, a spin-off from the university's chemistry department, is raising £15 million with a placing and joining AIM with a market value of £45 million. The company has been partly funded by IP2IPO, the quoted technology incubator, which will own 12 per cent of Vastox. Oxford University will hold 3 per cent after the flotation.

Graduates fail to enter the housing market
Nearly two-thirds of university graduates under the age of 30 cannot afford to get on the property ladder, according to research published yesterday. Soaring house prices have led to 63 per cent of people with a university degree not owning their own home, while 10 per cent say they cannot ever imagine being able to afford a mortgage. The survey was carried out by pollsters YouGov on behalf of Scottish Widows Bank.

Rugby league aces to go to Oxford
Oxford University is hoping to bolster its appeal in the north by offering scholarships to rugby league players. The university's rugby league club has launched a scheme to make two scholarships, each worth £1,000 a year, available from 2005 for students who play the quintessentially northern game. The scheme, which is being backed by the Rugby Football League, is the idea of Oxford student and last year's club president Matt Scaife.
Guardian, Daily Mail

Science gets boost in the capital
Britain's first Science Learning Centre opens today in London in a bid to bring students back to physics, engineering and chemistry. It offers teaching courses such as creative genetics and emotional literacy in the classroom. The number of students taking science A levels has fallen by a third in ten years.

A misguided plan for universities
Martin Wolf looks at Conservative plans for higher education
Financial Times

Britain joins mission to Mars
The science minister, Lord Sainsbury, announced today that Britain is contributing £5 million to help pave the way for the Aurora programme to explore the solar system, including manned missions to Earth's nearest planetary neighbour, Mars. The pledge effectively gives Britain a guaranteed place among the front-rank European Space Agency participants.

Vitamin fad could cause early deaths, say scientists
Careless use of vitamins, taken by millions in the belief that they promote good health, could be causing thousands of premature deaths, scientists have warned. Researchers from the University of Nis in Serbia and Montenegro, investigating whether antioxidant vitamin supplements can prevent cancer, found that rather than saving lives they seemed to increase overall risk of death.
Scotsman, Independent, Daily Mail

Women in their 30s beaten by fertility clock
Half of the women who put off trying for a baby until their 30s will fail to have one, according to research showing the side-effects of better career opportunities and greater lifestyle choices. Anne Berrington of Southampton University, who conducted the study, said that the findings also suggest that in the presence of competing activities such as a career, many women enter a state of "perpetual postponement", always intending to have children, but continually delaying it.

One coffee a day can make you an addict
As little as one cup of coffee a day can result in caffeine addiction, according to Roland Griffiths, a professor of psychiatry and neuroscience at the American University in Washington, who led a review of 170 years of caffeine studies.
Scotsman, Daily Telegraph

BMA suggests Ramadan risk for Muslim patients
Muslim patients on medication who fast during the holy month of Ramadan could be putting their health at risk, research published in the British Medical Journal suggests. Many prescription drugs require the user to take them either before or after food, on an empty stomach or at set times of the day.

Shall I compare thee to a pop star?
There was high excitement in academia yesterday afterreports that Madonna has enrolled at Oxford University. According to The Sun newspaper, the pop star is to take a degree in English Literature, through a "distance learning" programme, over the internet. All of which came as news to the university. "We don't actually do online degree courses, so there can't be any truth in this," said a spokesman.

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