Universities to close the door on 60,000
A desperate scramble to avoid higher tuition fees was blamed last night for a rush by tens of thousands of students to find university places through clearing. Record numbers of teenagers claimed places at their chosen university on the day that A-level results were released, leaving nearly 100,000 to fight it out for just 37,700 vacancies in clearing, the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service said. About 60,000 would-be undergraduates are likely to be left out in the cold as a result.
Admissions tests will create two-tier system, heads warn
Sixth-formers will face a "double whammy" of admissions tests and A levels to help universities to pick out the very best unless the Government reforms the exams system, headteachers said yesterday. As almost a quarter of all students were awarded A grades this year, David Hart, the general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said that a failure to act risked creating divisions between the state and independent sectors.
Language slump worries business
The number of teenagers who took French and German at A level fell to the lowest yet, despite more students entering for exams overall than ever before. The numbers studying maths and science recovered slightly. Just 14,484 pupils studied French and 5,901 studied German. Business leaders cautioned that trade would be harmed unless the decline were reversed, as Britain would be increasingly unable to win deals abroad.
E-mail error leaks 50 patients' details
An investigation has been launched by Edinburgh University after a leading professor accidentally leaked a confidential list of more than 50 patients' names and addresses. Most appear to have had brain scans at Edinburgh's Western General Hospital in 2001. Michael Sharpe, the director of psychological medicine at the university, "inadvertently" sent a computer file containing the details along with information from his inaugural lecture to a sufferer of the debilitating condition ME. The recipient, Douglas Fraser, a former concert violinist, forwarded the e-mail to several people and did not realise the confidential file was there until a week later.
Women still face bias in science
Women continue to face severe bias in science careers despite university programmes to overcome such challenges, according to a study published in today's issue of Science . The career path of most female scientists at universities is riddled with obstacles, including unconscious bias, "chilly" campus climates and the difficulty of balancing work and family.
University staff to get cheap home sweetener
Newly qualified lecturers and researchers are being offered cheap houses as part of a £1.9 million deal to help lure them to the Scottish capital. Edinburgh University is struggling to attract the brightest and best academics because of spiralling house prices in the city. It warns that failure to tackle the problem could affect teaching standards and research at one of the UK's most prestigious universities.
Carbon strips could build elevator to space
Scientists have created the ultimate ribbon. A thousand times thinner than a human hair and a few centimetres wide, the carbon sheet is stronger than steel for its weight, and could open the door to everything from artificial muscles to a space elevator capable of sending astronauts and tourists into orbit. The team of nanotechnology experts from the University of Texas at Dallas and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation in Australia have developed a way to assemble a form of carbon called "nanotubes" into flat sheets.
Climate change sceptics bet $10,000 on cooler world
Two climate change sceptics, who believe the dangers of global warming are overstated, have put their money where their mouth is and bet $10,000 (£5,570) that the planet will cool over the next decade. The Russian solar physicists Galina Mashnich and Vladimir Bashkirtsev have agreed the wager with a British climate expert, James Annan. The pair, based in Irkutsk, at the Institute of Solar-Terrestrial Physics, believe that global temperatures are driven more by changes in the sun's activity than by the emission of greenhouse gases. Most mainstream scientists dismiss the idea, but as the sun is expected to enter a less active phase over the next few decades the Russian duo are confident they will see a drop in global temperatures.