Today's news

August 17, 2005

A-level exam is 'terminal decline'
The A-level examination system is "in terminal decline", a spokesman for independent schools says today, and its destiny is beyond the Government's control. Geoff Lucas, the general secretary of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference, representing 243 leading independent schools, says that the purpose of A-levels - to regulate entry to the most academically selective universities - has been subverted.
Daily Telegraph

Bias against private schools a 'myth'
Independent schools admitted yesterday that discrimination by top universities against their students is a myth. If anything, candidates from fee-paying schools were continuing to win disproportionately large numbers of places. The findings, on the eve of this year’s A-level results, came in the largest study undertaken by the Independent Schools Council of university admissions. It concluded that admissions tutors treated candidates fairly, despite repeated allegations of prejudice from parents and schools. Rejection rates of up to 80 per cent at some universities simply reflected increased competition for places.
The Times

Students face toughest ever battle to get into top universities
Prestigious universities are turning away up to 16 candidates for every place on popular courses, a survey by The Independent reveals. A surge in applications this year means Britain's brightest A-level students face the toughest competition ever to get into the university of their choice.
The Independent

Cambridge rises up Shanghai poll
Cambridge University has moved up one place to rank second in a world league table of higher education institutions based on criteria mainly concerned with scientific excellence. In the 2005 Shanghai Jiao Tong rankings of the top 500, Oxford has gone down from eighth place to 10th. As in past years, the table is dominated by the United States, with Harvard again winning top ranking.
The Independent

Language lecturers' jobs at risk as student numbers decline
One of the country's leading universities is planning to lay off language lecturers in the wake of the growing crisis in the take-up of modern languages at A-level and in higher education. Glasgow University, a member of the elite 18-strong Russell Group of universities - which represents the country's top research institutions - is offering voluntary severance terms to its language teaching staff.
The Independent

Evolution goes under microscope
Harvard University is planning a scientific study of how life emerged on Earth, thrusting one of America's most prestigious universities into a growing and politically-charged debate over alternatives to Charles Darwin's theory of evolution. Opponents of evolution theory said the university's research project showed that science had yet to disprove alternative theories, including the idea of "intelligent design" - such as the hand of God - which is popular with America's religious conservatives.
The Scotsman


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