Today's news

November 30, 2005

Ethnic minority students 'still face discrimination'
University application forms should be made anonymous to prevent any discrimination against ethnic minority students, England's university funding council said today. The suggestion came as Hefce published new analysis of 2002 figures that reveals that Pakistani students are two percentage points less likely to be offered a place at university compared with their white peers. Ethnic minority applicants also have a significantly lower chance of receiving an offer when applying to study law compared with their white peers, it found. Black African students applying to new universities are 13 percentage points less likely to get a place than their white peers.
The Guardian

Fundamentalists 'threaten scientific progress'
An upsurge in fundamentalism is seriously threatening the role of science in shaping the modern world, Britain's most senior scientist will warn today. In a valedictory speech to mark the end of his five-year presidency of the Royal Society, Lord May of Oxford will claim that fundamentalist thought in all its guises, from religious beliefs to the ideologies of green lobby groups, is skewing debates over some of the most pressing issues facing humanity, such as climate change and emerging diseases.
The Guardian

University entrance getting more difficult for poor pupils
A senior government adviser has warned that Tony Blair's attempts to boost the numbers of university students from poor backgrounds are failing as England becomes more divided into a society of haves and have-nots. Despite the injection of £300 million into encouraging universities to widen recruitment, the proportion of students from poor backgrounds dropped this year, the adviser told a meeting in London yesterday, held under Chatham House rules of anonymity
The Independent

Scots told to return dictator's £350,000
Malawian civil rights groups are demanding that a cash handout from the country's former dictator to Scotland's Royal College of Surgeons be returned. Hastings Banda ruled Malawi as a one-party state for 30 years after independence in 1963 and was generous to the land where he qualified as a doctor. During his presidency he gave £350,000 to the Scottish Royal College of Surgeons in Edinburgh, where he studied medicine, as well as $2 million (£1.16 million) to Wilberforce University in the US.
The Daily Telegraph

Stem cells could cure deafness in ten years
Scientists hope that stem cell research could lead to a cure for deafness in as little as 10 years, it emerged today. Researchers from Sheffield University are using embryonic stem cells in efforts to grow new cells in the inner ear. Although the research is still in its early stages, the team from Sheffield University hope it could lead to a cure for deafness in the next 10 to 15 years.
The Daily Mail

Lancaster opens centre for contemporary thought
Lancaster University has launched an Institute for Advanced Studies to bring together scholars from different disciplines to tackle crucial contemporary issues. Modelled on the famous Institute of Advanced Study at Princeton in the US, where Einstein was a fellow, the Lancaster institute will be "critical and contrarian" and give participants time to think, said its director, Bob Jessop. In its first year, the Lancaster institute will be focusing on the knowledge-based economy and will bring together about 60 academics and outside business experts from the university and abroad. The year will end with an international conference.
The Guardian

Cassini snapshot reveals Saturn's volcanic moon
Nasa's Cassini spacecraft has captured unique views of two of Saturn's moons. The probe’s first close encounter with the large moon Rhea was somewhat eclipsed by a sidelong snapshot of the moon Enceladus, revealing active volcanic plumes above its surface. On a previous, much closer pass by Enceladus, Cassini detected that the south pole of Enceladus is spewing out a vast plume of water vapour that stretches hundreds of kilometres from the moon's surface and keeps Saturn's E-ring topped up – but it has now captured the first images of this activity.
New Scientist

Wildlife Trusts roots out new city president
An Edinburgh University professor has taken over the presidency of the Wildlife Trusts. Aubrey Manning, who was chairman of the Scottish Wildlife Trust from 1990 to 1996 and is the emeritus professor of natural history at Edinburgh University, will oversee the partnership of 47 local wildlife trusts across the UK.
The Scotsman

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