Today's news

February 22, 2005

Scrap A levels, says Cambridge
Cambridge University added its voice to demands for the abolition of A levels yesterday after figures showed that it rejected more than 5,000 students with top grades last year. Geoff Parks, the director of admissions, said that 5,325 unsuccessful applicants went on to get three A grades last summer. Cambridge admitted 3,293 undergraduates in October, 93 per cent of whom had three A grades.
The Times, Daily Telegraph, The Guardian, The Independent

Oxford accused of snobbery after leak
Oxford University is being accused of snobbery after leaked details of admissions criteria for a post-graduate course revealed that tutors were instructed to give preference to candidates from "prestigious" universities over those from "second-rank" and "weak" ones. The disclosure, threatens to reignite the row over elitism at Oxford which has simmered since 2000 when it emerged that Laura Spence, a state school pupil, had been refused a place despite a string of predicted A grades at A level.
The Guardian

Tuition fee cash flow crisis
Universities will face a cash flow crisis unless they receive the income from tuition fees before being required to pay out large new bursaries, MPs will be told this week. Vice-chancellors are concerned that students from poorer homes, who will qualify for extra financial support from 2006 when higher tuition fees are introduced, will expect to receive their bursaries at the beginning of the academic year. They say unless the estimated £2 billion extra universities will receive each year from the fees is delivered by the government by October, they will be left in serious financial difficulties.
The Financial Times

Initiative to boost business and research links
The commercial exploitation of British research received a boost as the government issued a set of model agreements to clarify collaboration between universities and business and speed up negotiations for intellectual property. The Treasury and the Department of Trade and Industry unveiled the agreements, which cover research contracts between business and universities, at a science and innovation conference at Manchester University yesterday.
The Financial Times

Librarians fuming in Bangor
At Bangor University, eight librarians are being threatened with the sack because the university needs to save £300,000 from its library services and believes students can find what they need on the internet. The university is currently consulting on the plans. Unfortunately among those threatened with the sack is the formidable Eileen Tilley, president of Bangor's branch of AUT.
The Guardian, See Times Higher Education Supplement (February 11)

Deadline set to move application systems online
Universities are being encouraged to accept all their applications online ahead of a 2006 deadline when paper forms will be all but abolished. The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service said that more and more universities were updating their systems, but that some would be left behind when the switch is made 18 months from now.
The Guardian,

'Pack ice' suggests frozen sea on Mars
A frozen sea, surviving as blocks of pack ice, may lie just beneath the surface of Mars, observations from Europe's Mars Express spacecraft suggest. The sea is just 5° north of the Martian equator and would be the first discovery of a large body of water beyond the planet's polar ice caps. Images from the High Resolution Stereo Camera on Mars Express show raft-like ground structures - dubbed "plates" - that look similar to ice formations near Earth's poles, according to an international team of scientists.
New Scientist, The Independent

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