Today's news

November 2, 2004

Mumps hits university campuses
Universities are setting up mass vaccination programmes and writing to students advising them to have the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) jab as an epidemic of mumps threatens to sweep campuses across the country. Almost 3,000 students and young people could be infected with mumps by the end of the year if trends continue. This compares with only ten in 1996. Oxford, Manchester, Leeds, Kent, Nottingham and Birmingham are among those following the advice of local public health agencies in taking steps to protect students.
Daily Telegraph

State pupils grab more places at leading universities
Between 1997-98 and 2002-03 the number of students from comprehensives and grammar schools attending the 13 leading universities rose by 5,900, or 35 per cent. State-educated students now account for 68 per cent of new admissions, up from 61 per cent in 1997. However, while the percentage of privately educated children going to the leading universities has gone down, the numbers have not and the Independent Schools Council said it was "not prima facie evidence of discrimination". York has the highest state school intake with 80 per cent, followed by Birmingham (79 per cent) and Warwick (78 per cent). Oxford, which had the lowest number of state school pupils in 1997-98 at 47 per cent, saw its intake rise to 55 per cent.
Times, Daily Telegraph

Retreat on university targets
Ministers are preparing to backtrack on targets to make universities take more state school applicants after a damning report. Higher Education Minister Kim Howells said that he was looking at ways to "improve" the benchmarks to make them "better understood". Dr Howells said "it is a shame this year's benchmarks caused such a storm". His retreat is in response to a study by the Sutton Trust, the educational charity founded by Sir Peter Lampl.
Daily Mail

How we fail our students
Sir Peter Lampl, founder of the Sutton Trust, offers some advice to the Director of Fair Access: work with universities to develop more outreach activities and benchmarks that reflect their actual admissions standards. That way the brightest students, whatever their background, will get the chance they deserve.
Times

Success of lung cancer vaccine brings hope of a breakthrough
A vaccine for treating lung cancer has shown very promising results in a trial, according to results presented by the Karolinska University Hospital in Stockholm yesterday. The trial adds to optimism that vaccines against cancer will work and that one day they will be used alongside surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy as standard tools in the cancer clinic.
Times

Arctic ice cap set to disappear by year 2070
Arctic ice is only half as thick as it was 30 years ago, the Arctic climate impact assessment report, conducted by more than 250 scientists over the past four years, has found. If current rates of change continue, there may be no ice in the Arctic in the northern hemisphere's summer by 2070, according to the study, to be discussed next Tuesday at an international conference in Iceland.
Financial Times

Mission to Mars failure blamed on inadequate funding
Britain's Beagle 2 Mars lander failed because the Government did not commit itself early enough to the mission or guarantee enough public funding, a committee of MPs says today. The investigation of the debacle is published on the day the Beagle team, led by Colin Pillinger of the Open University, holds a scientific meeting in London to press for another mission with an upgraded lander based on the same technology.
Financial Times, Guardian

Raking it in
Report on the new era of plenty that seems to have dawned at universities with the arrival of to-up fees.
Guardian

Two brains
An interview with David Canter, director of the centre of investigative psychology at Liverpool University.
Guardian

Race to improve
Feature article on diversity training for students that universities are offering in an attempt to stamp out harassment and discrimination on campus.
Guardian

Obituary
Harold Perkin, the first lecturer and later the first professor of social history at a British university, died on October 16, aged 77.
Independent

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