Today's news

October 15, 2004

We will not set access quotas, Howells says
Kim Howells, the new Higher Education Minister, this week insisted that the Government had no "backdoor agenda" to interfere in university admissions and would not fine institutions that missed their benchmarks for attracting working-class students. In a strident first speech on policy, Dr Howells said he wanted to "tear down the myths" and "conspiracies" about the Government's plans for higher education. He told Thursday's Universities UK's conference on admissions that there was "no yellow card or red card" and there were "no sticks being raised" to force universities to admit more students from poor backgrounds.
Times Higher, Guardian, Financial Times, Independent, Daily Telegraph

Rise of 'softer' subjects prompts hard talking
A further fall in students going to university to do modern languages, and a rise in some of the "softer" subjects such as tourism and dance, was reported by the Universities and Colleges Admission Service yesterday. The figures will fuel concerns that universities are failing to turn out graduates in the disciplines that employers and the economy need. Total acceptances for higher education are 1 per cent higher than last year. But there has been a fall, in some cases sharp, in the numbers studying computer science, electronic engineering, physics and geology.
Financial Times

Media studies courses lack practicality, say broadcasters
Leading broadcasters have warned that media studies courses, some of the most popular at universities, are insufficiently practical and do not help students find work. The number graduating from university with undergraduate and postgraduate media studies degrees has risen from 2,170 in 1998-99 to 6,230 in 2002-03, according to data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency. Figures show that in 2002-03 only about 15 per cent of media studies graduates were able to find jobs in the media within six months of graduation.
Financial Times

Concern over English students flocking north
Fresh fears were raised last night that Scots could miss out on university places north of the Border after figures revealed a rise in the number of English school-leavers accepted to study in Scotland. The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service recorded a 4.3 per cent rise in students from England accepted for places at Scottish universities - a jump from 3,898 last year to 4,065 in 2004.

Website to post data on progress of new graduates
At the Government's request, the Higher Education Statistics Agency is creating a website giving information of where graduates end up six months after finishing their undergraduate studies, including where and what they studied. The site, http:/// , is expected to be ready by early 2005.
Financial Times

Scientists herald malaria breakthrough
After 50 years of failure, a vaccine against malaria could be in sight. Human trials carried out on more than 2,000 young children in Africa have shown that it is possible to produce a vaccine that will protect some infants against infection and make the course of the disease less serious and life-threatening in others.
Results from the trials in Mozambique are published today in the Lancet medical journal.
Times, Guardian, Financial Times, Daily Telegraph

Scientists might be able to halt the spread of AIDS
US researchers have shown that it may be possible to block transmission of the AIDS virus from men to women. The scientists used a modified biological signalling molecule to shut the HIV virus out of female monkeys. They hope the research could be the first step towards developing a cream or gel that could do the same for humans.
Scotsman, Guardian

Comment: Don't deride Derrida
Academics are wrong to rubbish Derrida, Terry Eagleton writes. "English philistinism continues to flourish, not least when the words "French philosopher" are uttered. This week in the Guardian our home-grown intelligentsia gave a set of bemused, bone-headed responses to the death of Jacques Derrida."

Professor the 5th Earl Russell, who held the Chair of British History at King's College London, from 1990 to 2002 and was a leading revisionist historian of the English Civil War; becoming a vocal and effective spokesman for the Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords during the 1990s, died yesterday aged 67.
Daily Telegraph

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