Today's news

March 21, 2006

Rammell rejects 'pessimistic' participation figures
A report saying the government has "no prospect whatever" of reaching its target of 50 per cent of young people entering higher education by 2010 was rejected by the higher education minister, Bill Rammell, today. "It is incredibly pessimistic and unjustified to suggest that schools will barely improve attainment or increase higher education participation over the next 15 years," he said. The Higher Education Policy Institute has predicted that competition for university places will grow until 2010-11 as the number of 18-year-olds in the population in England continues to rise, but said there has been no significant increase in the numbers gaining A-levels to qualify for university. Hepi says there is no evidence that the government's efforts to widen access to higher education are working and believes this likely failure to widen access to university to more working-class students is "bad news for the country".
The Guardian

University delays closure of chemistry department
The governing body of the University of Sussex has delayed a final decision on the closure of its chemistry department. The news last week that Sussex had decided to shut down the high-ranking department - which has produced three Nobel laureates - sparked an outcry amid concerns about the future of science education in the UK. Yesterday the Sussex head of chemistry, Gerry Lawless, said members of the ruling senate had voted unanimously to review the plans. The university had said it wanted to concentrate on other areas, including English, history, media and maths.
The Guardian

Row as ancient Arab university honours Charles
The Prince of Wales flew to Egypt and into controversy yesterday as Cairo's ancient and celebrated Al-Azhar mosque and university, one of the Arab world's most venerated Islamic institutions, prepared to honour him for his promotion of inter-faith tolerance. As the prince, accompanied by the Duchess of Cornwall was due to receive an honorary doctorate today, some directors of the 1,000-year-old university have questioned whether the award from such a famed seat of Sunni Islam is appropriate.
The Daily Telegraph, The Times

University fires professor at centre of cloning fraud
Seoul National University fired the disgraced cloning pioneer Hwang Woo-suk yesterday following a disciplinary meeting, saying that he and his colleagues had dishonoured the university. Six other professors were suspended or had their pay cut. Dr Hwang was suspended last month from teaching and conducting research, although he remained a professor. His university concluded in January that his claims were faked. The professor claimed to have created the first cloned human embryos and to have extracted stem cells, raising hopes of cures for diseases such as Alzheimer's.
The Guardian

Confucius says: open institute in Edinburgh
The first Confucius institute in Scotland to promote Chinese language and culture is to be set up at Edinburgh University. The institute, which is part of a growing global network, like the Institut Francais or the Goethe Institute for French and German culture, was announced jointly in Beijing today by Scotland's first minister, Jack McConnell, and the Chinese minister of education, Zhou Ji. China intends to open around 100 Confucius institutes around the world by 2010 as its economic success provides a basis for cultural diplomacy.
The Guardian

Drawings reunited to paint picture of a genius at work
The British Museum has reunited drawings by Michelangelo that have not been seen together since the posthumous dispersal of his studio in 1564. Closer to the Master , the first exhibition of works by Michelangelo in 30 years, offers an extraordinary insight into one of the greatest artists of the Renaissance. Ninety drawings - unveiled yesterday before the public opening on Thursday - focus on his virtuosity as a draftsman and his ability to express emotion through the posture and torsion of the body.
The Times

Pesticides in food 'increase risk of cancer in babies and children'
Babies and young children may be at risk of developing cancer through exposure to pesticides in food, say scientists. Low levels of chemicals found in pesticide spraying, left, and plastics are more influential in causing cancer than previously thought, experts from the University of Liverpool said. They say that chemicals pass to humans from eating meat and dairy products and can also be transferred from a mother to her baby via breast milk. Jamie Page, chairman of the Cancer Prevention and Education Society, said: “This research suggests that there are links between chemicals and cancer.
The Times

Letter
From Bill Rammell saying that the benefits of going to University far outweigh the financial investment.
The Times

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