Today's news

October 4, 2005

Rammell: I'm right on university admissions
The higher education minister, Bill Rammell, today told independent schools they were wrong to criticise his plans for a shake-up of university admissions. The minister admitted that his proposals to make it easier for students from poor backgrounds and state schools to get into top universities amounted to "social engineering". But he insisted the government was "absolutely right" to reform the system to make it "fairer" for the less well-off. The chairman of the Independent Schools Association, David Vanstone, said he was concerned by the minister's "opinionated and uncompromising" stance.
The Guardian

New Orleans universities plan to rebuild
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, professors and students from the city's universities took academic refuge in other schools - some as far away as the University of Haifa in Israel. Now, more than a month after the storm, New Orleans' universities - including Tulane, Loyola and Xavier - are putting together ambitious plans to reopen in January. Officials are patching up battered campuses, finding housing for employees whose homes were destroyed, gauging how many students will return and persuading top faculty not to jump ship. "There might be some people who prefer not to go back to the city, especially if they've lost their houses, but for the faculty who have invested a lot in Loyola, they won't be inclined to hunt for something else," said Bernard Cook, a history professor at the university.
The Guardian

Rowing coach was 'legless' on eve of drowning
The head coach of an Oxford University rowing team was "legless" the night before a tragedy in which one of her party drowned, an inquest heard yesterday. Leila Hudson, a former Boat Race cox, was heard banging on a door at her Spanish hotel and shouting the name of a former boyfriend. Next morning she staggered from her room, still the worse for wear. Later that day Leo Blockley, 21, a mathematics postgraduate, drowned when his boat was swamped in a storm on the Ebro river near Barcelona.
The Daily Telegraph

Students' 1,000-pint challenge attacked by drink body
A student group has prompted condemnation from alcohol campaigners for organising an event that urges members to join forces in a bid to drink 1,000 pints of lager in a night. Emails reveal that the Edinburgh University Boat Club has organised a challenge to down 1,000 pints at a bar in the city, with "a prize for the person who drinks the most". The emails, sent to 18-year-old first-years keen on rowing, said the event was mandatory and a "warm-up" for the club's initiations.
The Scotsman

Australian pair wins Nobel prize for stomach ulcer research
Two Australian scientists were yesterday awarded this year's Nobel prize for physiology and medicine for their "unexpected" discovery that has saved millions of people from the pain of stomach ulcers. Robin Warren, a pathologist from Perth, and Barry Marshall, a senior research fellow at the University of Western Australia, share the prize for their 1982 discovery of a bacterium, helicobacter pylori , which causes stomach inflammations and ulcers. Prior to this discovery, it was generally believed that stress and lifestyle were the chief causes of stomach infections.
The Guardian, New Scientist, The Independent

Satellite set to survey Earth's poles
The first satellite to accurately measure how fast the Earth's polar ice caps are shrinking will launch on 8 October. Unlike previous radar satellites, CryoSat carries twin radar antennae that give it three-dimensional vision, so it can see not only how much of the planet's surface is covered with ice, but also how thick the ice is. The satellite should be able to detect changes in thickness of just a few centimetres, and can even see through thick cloud. The result is the most precise radar system ever sent into space, according to the chief scientist on the project, Duncan Wingham of University College London.
Nature, New Scientist

Contesting issues in an article about Oxford University.
The Financial Times

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