Today's news

February 25, 2005

Big fall in language students
The Government's national languages strategy is seriously questioned in a damning report today, which reveals that there has been a "marked national decline" in the numbers of undergraduates studying languages. Commissioned by the Department for Education and Skills (DfES), it paints the bleakest outlook for language degrees yet, with ever declining numbers of students and an increasing concentration of courses in the hands of a few institutions.
The Guardian

The sum of all fears
University mathematics is under threat. A new report to MPs claims that departmental closures are creating maths 'deserts' and depriving the UK of vital skills. The closure of maths at Hull University is but the tip of an iceberg. University maths departments are continuing to be closed down and maths "deserts" are being created in some regions, according to a scathing report from the leading mathematical body, to be delivered to MPs next week.
The Independent

Huge rise in mumps cases
Health chiefs today sounded the alarm over a steep rise in the number of cases of mumps in the capital. Latest figures show there have been more than 200 suspected cases reported to doctors in south-west London in the past six months, compared with just 24 for the whole of 2003. The increased occurrence of the disease is mainly among older teenagers and adults in their early twenties, particularly those at university.
The Evening Standard, The Times

Students to vote for a Coke boycott at unions
Students are set to ban Coca-Cola from shops and bars at Edinburgh University over alleged human rights abuses at an overseas factory. The Edinburgh University Students’ Association is next month expected to back a proposed boycott of the giant drinks firm. The move would mean the company would lose its £120,000-a-year contract with EUSA and all advertising rights in buildings owned by the student union.
The Scotsman

Ice age bacteria brought back to life
A bacterium that sat dormant in a frozen pond in Alaska for 32,000 years has been revived by NASA scientists. Once scientists unthawed the ice, the previously undiscovered bacteria started swimming around on the microscope slide. The researchers say it is the first new species of microbe found alive in ancient ice. Now named Carnobacterium pleistocenium, it is thought to have lived in the Pleistocene epoch, a time when woolly mammoths still roamed the Earth.
New scientist

Martian pole reveals ice age cycles
The thick cap of water ice at Mars' north pole is more than 1000 kilometres wide and up to three kilometres deep. Pictures of Mars's north pole have revealed a record of the planet's climate over the past 3 million years. The climate history is written in light and dark bands exposed on the sides of ice cliffs. Scientists now say that they can read these bands in the same way as climatologists on Earth interpret cores drilled from deep-sea sediments.
Nature

Letter
Regarding how education reforms will affect employers and universities.
The Times

Letter
New course for education
The Guardian

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