Today's news

May 9, 2005

Universities cut private pupils in return for higher fees
Top universities are setting targets that favour state pupils over independent pupils in return for being able to set higher fees. Despite ministers’ assurances that top-up fees would not affect admissions, vice-chancellors have told the official regulator that they would take more state pupils as long as they could charge maximum fees. The move was attacked last night by senior academics for making social engineering part of the admissions process rather than pure academic merit.
The Times, The Evening Standard

Top-up fees will make UK second most expensive place to study
Students pay an average of almost £7,000 a year for their education, a survey has revealed, making Britain the third most expensive country in the world for study. The introduction of the £3,000 top-up tuition fees in September could make it the second most costly. “Education in Britain cannot truly be considered affordable and in most respects lags behind some allegedly expensive countries such as the United States,” said Alex Usher, vice-president of the independent Educational Policy Institute, which carried out the survey.
The Guardian, The Observer

Women say no to computer games degree
An industry which celebrates violence and the exaggerated female form might expect to be an all-male domain - but a university launched a frantic search today after a prestigious new computer games degree failed to attract a single woman. The Microsoft-backed honours course has had applications from 106 male undergraduates, but now hopes to strike a gender balance by holding a series of summer camps. Staff at the University of Derby said it believes the women-only taster days will persuade female students they have important roles to take up in the sector.
The Guardian, The Scotsman

John Donne, 17th-century poet of pop
John Donne was the Cole Porter of his day, a writer of subtle popular songs rather than just the author of cerebral poetry, according to new research. The discovery of four musical scores by various composers of the day reveal that Donne intended some of his words to be sung rather than read. Jonathan Holmes, a Donne scholar who is working on a play about the poet for The Globe theatre in London, found the material among piles of unidentified manuscripts in the British Library in London and the Bodleian in Oxford.
The Times

The vanishing flowers of Britain: one in five species faces extinction
One in five of Britain's wild flower species is threatened with extinction, according to the most detailed analysis to date of the British flora. The total is far higher than previously thought and has shocked the team of senior botanists who discovered it through a two-year intensive survey of all of Britain's 1,756 native plant species. The researchers found that while there has been success at looking after rarer species, there has been a failure to prevent the decline of once common ones.
The Independent, The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph

Why a mild dose of stress will do you good
Stress is good for you, in small amounts, according to experts. Exposure to mild forms of stress is believed to boost the body’s natural defences against certain illnesses, including Alzheimer’s, arthritis and heart disease. Dr Marios Kyriazis, of the British Longevity Society, said patients in his private anti-ageing clinic looked and felt younger after being set a series of stressful tasks to do.
The Scotsman

Babies 'see colours from four months'
Babies as young as four months are able to distinguish between different colours, a study revealed. Researchers said their findings countered the myth that newborn babies were colour-blind. Tests involving more than 250 babies at the University of Surrey found even very young infants were able to categorise a range of colours. The research was led by Dr Anna Franklin, who set up the Surrey Baby Lab five years ago to find out what colours babies prefer and why.
The Scotsman

From the weekend's papers:


  • MPs cast doubt on the Government's claim to have brought about a dramatic improvement in reading standards. The Daily Telegraph
  • A senior Cambridge lecturer has been suspended over a string of affairs. The Daily Mail
  • The Liberal Democrats thanked students for helping them gain three key Labour seats in university towns following a campaign to target campuses. The Guardian


  • Cambridge is leading the way in helping disabled students thrive at university. The Daily Telegraph
  • The academic who has stirred the furore with regard to the boycott of Israeli universities is undaunted by the hate mail she receives. The Sunday Times
  • Students with a social conscience will find their principles come at a price when choosing a bank. The Mail On Sunday

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