Today's news

October 25, 2004

Universities in cash-for-places row
Some of Britain's leading universities are embroiled in a "cash for degree courses" row after accepting foreign students from a fee-paying tutorial college that claims to be in partnership with them. The foreign applicants pay £15,000 for one-year "foundation" courses at Bellerbys college, which claims to guarantee a place at one of 33 British universities with which it is linked. These include highly ranked institutions such as Nottingham and Southampton. Universities confirmed they accepted Bellerbys students but denied they guaranteed places. Bellerbys found undergraduate places for 400 foreign students last year. Stephen Miller, deputy vice-chancellor at City University, London, which appears as a "partner" university on the Bellerbys website, denied there was a formal arrangement with the college.
Sunday Times

Think-tank raps courses that fail to teach teachers
Standards required of teachers in British schools are "pitched pitifully low", compared with similar countries, according to a critical report out today. A study by a commission including education academics and former chief inspector of schools Chris Woodhead brands the teacher training system a failure, and says many staff - particularly at primary level - have inadequate knowledge of their subjects. The report, published by the right-leaning think-tank Politeia, also attacks both undergraduate and post-graduate teaching qualifications, claiming they are unreliable and "the victim of bureaucratic box-ticking criteria".

End of story for university writer-in-residence
Edinburgh University has lost the funding for its writer-in-residence just as the Scottish capital becomes the world's first City of Literature. The Scottish Arts Council has withdrawn cash for the post as part of a policy shift towards more community-based projects. Edinburgh University has pledged to continue funding of the post for now, but insiders are said to be worried about its long-term future.
Edinburgh Evening News

Museum visitors to watch live brain surgery
The spirit of Victorian medicine, in which pioneering and often gruesome operations were demonstrated in front of eager public audiences, is being recreated this week for Britain's first "live" brain surgery. Visitors to the Science Museum's Dana Centre in London on Thursday evening will view a two-hour operation transmitted via satellite from America and put questions to the surgeons.
Daily Telegraph

Scientists getting a buzz out of booze
The honey bee, long seen as the world's most important insect, is now helping scientists to discover how alcohol affects the brain. The study by scientists at Ohio State University is part of long-term research into whether alcohol increases aggressive behaviour in humans. Presenting the research at a weekend conference organised by the Society for Neuroscience, Julie Mustard, the entomologist leading the research, said that, at the molecular level, bees' brains worked in the same way as those of humans.

Pride may have doomed Light Brigade
The Light Brigade were victims of their pride rather than squabbling generals, according to a fresh analysis of Britain's most famous military blunder. Research into letters by some of the 673 cavalrymen by historian Hugh Small highlights anger at taunts that the Light Brigade tried to avoid its Russian counterpart, the Cossacks. Mr Small's research is to be published in next month's History Today.
Guardian, Daily Telegraph

Edinburgh students get stranded for charity
Blindfolded Edinburgh students will be voluntarily stranded in secret locations around Scotland next Saturday and left to make their own way back in a bid to raise cash for deprived children. Edinburgh University’s Children’s Holiday Venture, which gives deprived children in the area the chance to attend summer camps and participate in leisure activities, takes place on Saturday.
Edinburgh Evening News

Other higher education items in the weekend press

- Graduates expect to pay off their student debt by the age of 28, on average, but are far more likely to finish repaying at aged 31. Observer

- Oxford's disdain for social engineering doesn't apply when it comes to keeping state school students out of the elite university. Guardian , October 23

- Letters regarding social engineering and universities and the differences between British and US higher education. Times , October 23

- Letter stating why Oxford and Cambridge are no longer the best in the world. Financial Times , October 23

- A Swansea college criticised for offering a surfing degree has launched a computer games course. Guardian , October 23

- Surrey University is offering a masters exploring how digital technology fits with its users. Guardian , October 23

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