Today's news

October 5, 2004

Breakaway warning from Oxford college head
Oxford University could break away from the publicly funded education system within a generation, a college head has warned. Michael Beloff QC, president of Trinity College, is angered by the Government's insistence that top institutions should take more pupils from state schools. "The Department for Education should take its tanks off Oxford's lawns," he told headteachers of private sector schools at their annual conference yesterday. A fundraising drive is being launched by John Hood, the university's new vice-chancellor, who was installed yesterday, and Mr Beloff said that the scheme would bring in enough cash through endowments to allow the university to go it alone.
Financial Times, Independent, Times, Guardian, Daily Telegraph

University seeks animal protest 'exclusion zone'
Oxford University staff and contractors working for them face harassment by the animal rights movement, a court was told yesterday. The university is seeking an interim injunction that would bar campaign groups and individuals from a 50-yard "exclusion zone" around its buildings. It would also establish exclusion zones around the homes of "protected people" and around contractors' premises, and sharply curtail permitted protest activity. Separately, Sir Colin Lucas, Oxford's outgoing vice-chancellor, used his retirement speech to launch a passionate defence of animal testing, which he said was crucial in finding cures for crippling and fatal ailments and conditions. The Oxford University hearing is expected to continue for two to three days.
Financial Times, Daily Telegraph, Times

Tories pledge to scrap university fees
University top-up fees would be scrapped, pass marks in GCSE mathematics would be raised and teachers would be given new protection against unruly pupils within days of a Tory election victory, Tim Collins, the shadow Education Secretary, told the party's conference yesterday.
Independent, Times

Scottish colleges fear funding gap
Scotland's colleges expressed fears last night that the funding gap between the further education and higher education is about to widen. Andy Kerr, the former Scottish finance minister, announced a major cash boost for both colleges and universities last week. But after closer examination of the figures, college officials are reportedly concerned that universities will have their funding increased by £70 million between 2006-7 and 2007-8, while colleges will receive only an extra £17 million over the same period.

Letter: My future put at risk by quotas
Private school pupil Katie Williams, from Clacton-on-Sea, recounts her experience of application rejection from four universities in spite of having achieved excellent A-level grades.
Daily Mail

Stalking study announced
Researchers from the University of Leicester and the charity Network for Surviving Stalking are to conduct a study to examine the effects of stalking on up to a million Britons each year. The crime can lead to assault, rape and murder, and cause long-term psychological damage.

Unlawful Oxbridge connection revealed
Mrs E. Howe of Ipswich writes: "In response to my telephonic request for information recently, the polite lady at National Rail Enquiries, no doubt reading from a computer screen, informed me that there were no direct train services between Cambridge and Oxford as this was 'an illegal journey'." Times

Physicists win Nobel prize for quark theory
Three American physicists share this year's Nobel prize for physics for calculating the bizarre properties of the ultimate fragments of matter. David Gross of the University of California, Santa Barbara, David Politzer of Caltech, Pasadena, and Frank Wilczek of Massachusetts Institute of Technology provided the mathematics for a completely new theory, that in the last three decades, has helped scientists peer deeper into the atom and get closer to the mysteries of creation.
Guardian, Daily Telegraph

Why science must excite and not baffle
As the annual Nobel prizes are awarded, Simon Gage, director of the Edinburgh International Science Festival, considers how science and its continuing advancement relates to the public, particularly in the field of education.

Skull reveals Saxon brain surgery
The history of brain surgery is being rewritten after the discovery of a skull that shows that complex operations were performed in Anglo-Saxon England. A century before the Norman invasion of 1066, a doctor or itinerant healer skilfully removed scraps of skull from a 40-year-old Yorkshire peasant who had been whacked on the head. According to English Heritage archaeologists, the patient lived for many years after the operation, finally dying of unrelated causes.
Guardian, Daily Mail, Times

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