Today's news

February 23, 2005

Reforms will boost vocational training
The “gold standards” of A levels and GCSEs will be enhanced to stretch the most able students, and vocational training will be boosted to end the snobbery that values it as a second-class education, Ruth Kelly, the Education Secretary, will tell Parliament today. Under what has been billed as radical reform, bright children will be able to take university exams early and all teenagers will be offered education or training until the age of 18.
The Times, Financial Times, The Independent

Students to take visa protest to No 10
Hundreds of international students are expected to descend on Downing Street tomorrow to protest against government plans in increase visa fee charges to students. Around 300 students are planning to protest outside the Home Office followed by No 10. Universities have backed calls to drop proposals to increase visa renewal fees for students from £155 to £250 for the standard service and from £250 to £500 for the premium same-day service.
The Guardian

Not really on top
Exeter University researchers say that, just as in business, women in politics are more likely to be put in charge of failing enterprises. They found that 13 women in the 2003 Scottish elections fought seats lost by an average of 34.4 per cent in the previous election. But 57 men fought seats lost by an average of 28.2 per cent.
The Times

High cost of course closures
Higher education institutions might want to reconsider closing departments on the back of falling student applications after a clear case of a university learning a lesson rather than giving one. The abandonment of chemistry at King’s College London has cost the institution a multimillion-pound research deal with the Medical Research Council.
The Times, Times Higher Education Supplement February 18

From the chalkface
Queen Margaret University College, in Edinburgh, has been chosen to train members of the Children’s Panel in the east of Scotland. The training had previously been carried out by Edinburgh University, but the Scottish Executive invited tenders from other further and higher education institutions. QMUC staff will deliver training in child development, law and communication with children and families, decision-making, chairing meetings, making presentations and IT skills.
The Scotsman

First invisible and starless galaxy, revealed by astronomers
Astronomers have discovered an object which appears to be an invisible galaxy made up almost entirely of dark matter, they revealed today. The galaxy, the first of its kind to be detected, has been named VIRGOHI21, and is 50 million light years away. It could only be found using radio telescopes because there are no stars to give light.
The Scotsman

Titanic complexity pleases planet scientists
Titan is turning out to be just as complicated as scientists had hoped. A fly-by of the saturnian moon has revealed varied terrain, including two impact craters and some mysterious parallel lines. And data sent back from the European Space Agency's Huygens probe hint that a complex mix of organic molecules could be present in its ice.
Nature

Letter
Regarding changes to life at university.
The Times

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