Today's news

November 1, 2004

New universities snub tradition in vocational shift
Britain's new universities are abandoning traditional academic courses in favour of vocational degrees as they vie for students in an increasingly competitive educational market place, a survey has found. The Financial Times contacted 69 universities in an attempt to chart the impact of market forces on academia ahead of the introduction of variable tuition fees in two years' time. As well as disclosing a widening gulf between the former polytechnics and the traditional universities, the research revealed that even top-flight institutions are being forced to offer perks to tempt first-rate applicants to subjects where there is a national shortage, such as maths, chemistry and physics.
Financial Times

Free beans for students as loans are delayed
Hard-up students have been issued with free baked beans because their loans are a month late arriving. A computer breakdown at the Student Loans Company means that more that 100,000 students have still not received the money they need for rent or food. The tins of beans are being handed out to students at the University of Aberystwyth. Students at other institutions are being helped out with emergency hardship loans from their student unions or are relying on the goodwill of landlords or their parents.
Daily Mail

Life is better for polyglots, survey finds
People who speak more than one language earn more money and have a wider choice of work, and are also more likely to be more successful with the opposite sex, a new survey shows. Polyglots earn an extra £3,000 a year - a total of £145,000 over their lifetime, according to a survey of 2,700 employers. The report was commissioned by the Michel Thomas Language Centre, which is run in the UK and America,
Guardian, Independent

Schools have no time for languages
Foreign languages are in danger of disappearing from state schools, new government-commissioned research has found. Only 3 per cent of England's 17,000 primary schools are providing a single 20-minute lesson a week for pupils aged 7 to 11. A quarter of schools that have introduced and then abandoned language lessons blamed a lack of time in the curriculum. Most of the schools surveyed were in areas where children came from well-off family backgrounds. The research suggests that the Government will find it difficult to meet its declared aim of ensuring that all pupils are offered language lessons by 2009.

Cancer-free 'designer babies' get approval
People with inherited forms of cancer have won the right to select embryos free from genes that might trigger the disease in future generations. Four couples affected by a genetic form of bowel cancer will start the procedure by the end of the year, after the Government's fertility watchdog allowed a London clinic to screen IVF embryos for the disorder. Paul Serhal, of University College Hospital, will be allowed to screen embryos for the gene that causes familial adenomatous polyposis - an aggressive colon cancer.
Times, Daily Mail

Time to turn tourist tide in Valley of the Kings
US scientists are preparing a makeover for the world's most famous graveyard. A plan to control tourism, limit traffic, deflect flash floods, reduce theft and vandalism and even alter farming on the banks of the Nile could soon begin to change the face of the Valley of the Kings. Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities has asked the archaeologists, architects and engineers of the Theban Mapping Project - launched 25 years ago simply to make a detailed map of the 62 tombs and temples of the pharaohs and nobles buried more than 3,000 years ago - to complete a plan for the conservation of the valley by the end of 2005.

Higher education items in the weekend press
- Universities are drawing up plans to sweep away dumbed-down GCSE and A levels and replace them with new qualifications. Mail on Sunday
- Oxford dons predict that their university will be forced to go private within 10 years. Sunday Express
- Oxford Student reporters suspended for hacking. Times, Guardian , October 30

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