Today's news

September 19, 2005

Government to pilot national university admissions test
Ministers today announced a major trial of a national university admissions test to help universities select the most able candidates from the raft of straight-A applications they receive. Independent headteachers said it was a sign that A-levels were no longer "up to the job" of indicating the skills school-leavers have acquired, while an American university boss warned that the tests encouraged coaching, which advantages more privileged students.
The Guardian

Cambridge launches US-style drive for funds
Cambridge University will launch a US-style "Ivy League" fundraising drive this week to raise hundreds of millions of pounds. Cambridge's 800th anniversary celebration in 2009 is expected to be launched by the vice-chancellor, Alison Richard, on Thursday and will be a coordinated effort through its 31 individual colleges. As well as aiming its appeal at alumni around the world, the university wants to raise larger sums from corporate donors. The proceeds will help to fund new bursaries to attract students from poor backgrounds who might not otherwise apply.
The Guardian

Illiteracy and cheating rife at university
Scottish university students have been accused of missing classes, passing off copied coursework as their own, lacking general knowledge and having poor literacy skills, in a critical report by their lecturers. The annual course monitoring report by members of Glasgow University's faculty of arts has even led to calls for students to take a "literacy certificate" in order to prove they have a basic grasp of grammar.
The Scotsman

Psychopaths best to play the stock market, say academics
City brokers have never enjoyed the best of reputations. The popular image is of a brash and boastful twentysomething with more money than sense or sensitivity. But now a study by a group of eminent American academics suggests that star performers on the stock market may be even worse and could best be described as "functioning psychopaths". In a study of investors’ behaviour, the team from three US universities suggest that people with brain damage can make better financial decisions than the rest of us.
The Times

Celoxica float set to raise £10m
Celoxica, an Oxford University spin-out company that makes software for computer chips, will today announce plans to float on Aim in a move that is expected to raise £10 million and value the company at £25 million. Celoxica, whose name means "rapid silicon" in Latin, makes software that helps speed up the operation of semiconductors by putting programs directly on to the silicon.
The Financial Times

Politics clouds blue-sky science
Political interference in research funding to favour fashionable fields could undermine the quality of British science, the head of a biomedical charity said yesterday. Mark Walport, the director of the Wellcome Trust, said that ministers have pledged to ring-fence substantial sums for areas such as stem cells, energy generation and climate change, and are keen to encourage research likely to bring quick economic or practical benefits.
The Times

Gene research gives clue to obesity
Scientists believe they may have come closer to understanding why some people become obese. The finding comes from a team from University College London's Institute of Child Health who have been studying a rare inherited illness known as Bardet-Biedl syndrome. Its symptoms include childhood obesity, gradual vision loss leading to blindness and kidney failure. From their studies so far the researchers, led by Philip Beales, believe that the ability of a cell to sense its position in the body's tissue may help in the understanding of obesity.
The Scotsman

Letter
Regarding universities needing to change if they are to attract more foreign students.
The Financial Times

From the weekend's papers:

Saturday

  • Overseas students take language courses before embarking on their masters programmes. The Guardian
  • University of Bath will launch a new masters degree in death and society. The Guardian

Sunday

  • Survey on student happiness will be published in a few weeks. The Sunday Times
  • UK universities are terror labs. The Sunday Express

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