Today's news

March 15, 2005

Oxford owns up to a bias against girl applicants
Oxford admitted for the first time yesterday that it discriminated against female applicants and those from independent schools. But a study carried out with the university's backing found no evidence of discrimination against working-class applicants, as is widely alleged. It also showed that tutors based admissions decisions not on AS-level results or even predicted A-level grades, as is generally supposed, but principally on how applicants performed at GCSE. AS and A-level grades played only "modest roles".
The Daily Telegraph

Oxford returns
Investment in the stock market, with free advice from former students now working in the City, helped to boost the finances of Oxford University’s colleges. Accounts for the 36 colleges show they made £180 million, an average gain of nearly 11 per cent, on endowments worth £1.69 billion in the year to July 2004.
The Times

Chinese whispers
The declining numbers of students from China are high on the agenda as the Association of University Administrators meets at Warwick University this week to discuss the tensions facing a sector in flux. One seminar likely to be well-attended at this year's annual conference focuses on the drop in applicants from China, which is second only to Ireland in the number of overseas students it sends to the UK. Recent Ucas data indicate a 25 per cent fall, and Universities UK says some institutions have reported a 50 per cent decline. Most institutions blame government interference over the price of visa extensions, big price hikes on visas that come in from April 1 and a controversial proposal to take away the right of appeal on rejected applications.
The Guardian

Cheer for the second tier
Just a few decades ago, Oxford and Cambridge colleges had a system of closed scholarships that they made available only to boys from the poshest public schools, like Eton and Harrow. This year the University of Kent in Canterbury proposes to do the exact opposite: it is creating two closed scholarships of £1,000 a year for 17 of the most deprived schools in Kent. The county needs the university to make a special effort, because it still has a selective system of secondary education. Grammar schools choose those children they wish to teach on the basis of the 11-plus examination, and high schools (which are effectively what used to be called secondary moderns) teach the rest. One result is very low aspirations in the high schools.
The Guardian

E-learning is still a priority
Despite well-publicised problems surrounding the UK e-University project, e-learning - it seems - remains a priority in higher education. Setting out a ten-year strategy, the Higher Education Funding Council for England aims “to help institutions and practitioners explore the possibilities of transforming the future learning experience”. The strategy also foresees “a more student-focused and flexible system”, but what exactly does this entail? Even a definition of e-learning appears to be problematic, although the report suggests it “should be sufficiently broad to encompass the many uses of ICT that individual universities and colleges decide to adopt in their learning and teaching missions”.
The Times

Ex-student in Napier University flats deal
An empty university building will be converted into flats after being sold to a former student for £1.8 million. Napier University’s former Redwood campus, in Spylaw Road, Merchiston, is set to be transformed into luxury apartments. The site has been empty since the institution’s transport department moved. Paul Dickens, a former Napier student who went on to create the Alba group of property businesses, purchased the building. Mr Dickens, 40, said: "It is difficult to explain just how satisfying it is to buy part of the university which changed my life.
The Scotsman

Have you got a masters plan?
Report into increasing numbers of students believing a postgraduate qualification will set them apart in the jobs market. But are they right?
The Guardian

Green tea reveals its anti-cancer secrets
The reason that green tea can protect against some cancers but also raise the risk of birth defects when drunk by pregnant women is revealed by new research today. Earlier studies showed that one of the tea's active ingredients is a naturally occurring polyphenol called EGCG. Today's work, published in the journal Cancer Research, shows EGCG could provide the starting point for a new family of anti-cancer drugs.
Daily Telegraph

Bible rewritten
For readers of the Bible confused by its archaic language, such as its use of the term "stoned" for a form of execution rather than the effects of smoking dope, help is at hand. One of the world's most widely read Bibles, the New International Version, has been modernised by a team of 15 American and British scholars and is published today.
Daily Telegraph

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