Today's news

November 18, 2005

Legal threat to admissions tests
The day when a parent takes a university to court over its decision not to admit their son or daughter is not far off, admissions officers were yesterday warned. Tessa Stone, director of the Sutton Trust, which campaigns to widen access to higher education, said this would complicate universities' efforts to recruit non-traditional students. Institutions would have to take care that the growing number of admissions tests were fair and valid, but the likelihood of legal action could make them more mechanistic, she told a conference of university admissions officers.
The Guardian

Students support animal testing
Students at Oxford University, the main academic target of animal rights extremists, are overwhemingly in favour of research using animals, according to an opinion poll published in Cherwell , the student newspaper. A large majority of students believe the university should complete its contentious animal facility, construction of which has been stopped as a result of intimidation of building contractors by members of extremist groups. The e-mail poll received 210 responses. About 85 per cent favoured regulated experimentation on animals and the completion of the research facility, with 11 per cent against.
The Financial Times

Edinburgh in pole position to make change on climate
The president of Edinburgh University Students' Association has been shortlisted to become an international speaker on climate change. Ruth Cameron is a finalist in a competition being organised by ice-cream-makers Ben and Jerry to find climate change ambassadors. She has already been selected from more than 1,000 entries from the Netherlands and the UK for one of just six places at Ben and Jerry's Climate Change College, in Amsterdam.
The Scotsman

Makerere students call off fees protest
Students at Uganda's main university have called off their strike after the country's President suspended plans to increase fees to resit their exams, according to press reports. Violence flared up at Makerere University last Friday as students protested at the proposed 20-fold increase in fees, from Shs6,000 (about £1.72) to Shs120,000. One student died and more than half a dozen were injured as protesters clashed with riot police, who reportedly used plastic bullets and tear gas to disperse the crowds. Thirteen students have reportedly been arrested.
The Guardian

Award for scientist who connects with the public
A professor at King's College London was yesterday presented with the Biosciences Federation communication award for his "courage" in explaining sensitive and sometimes controversial scientific issues to the public. Clive Page, professor of pharmacology and the director of the university's Sackler Institute, which researches respiratory diseases, received his award, worth £1,000, from BBC science correspondent Pallab Ghosh. The federation said Prof Page had taken a leading role in discussing difficult issues, such as those surrounding animal testing.
The Guardian

Scottish study offers new drug hope for mental illness
Scottish scientists have made an "important breakthrough" in understanding the genetic factor involved in schizophrenia and manic depression. Experts from Glasgow and Edinburgh universities have discovered that damage to a particular gene increases the risk of developing mental illness. The teams also linked it to a gene called Disrupted in Schizophrenia 1, which may lead to research into new drugs.
The Scotsman

Butterflies shine brighter by design
African butterflies have light-emitting wings that share a trick with high-tech light-emitting diodes, researchers in Britain have found. The swallowtail butterflies of eastern and central Africa ( Princeps nireus ) have bands of blue spots composed of fluorescent scales: these do not simply reflect light, they actively shine. And now physicists Pete Vukusic and Ian Hooper at Exeter University have discovered that the brightness of this emission is boosted by the structure of the wing scales, which channels the fluorescent light in a single direction away from the wing.
Nature, The Independent

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