Today's news

May 22, 2006

Students to choose their university after A level
Pupils who achieve higher than predicted A-level grades will be encouraged to apply for places at better universities under reforms to be announced by the Government today. The changes will lead the way to a complete shift to the selection of university places after publication of examination results, in the most radical transformation to the centralised admissions system since it started more than 40 years ago. The 300,000 students who begin sitting A-level papers this week will have to ditch their confirmed university places to bid for a course at better universities if they achieve higher grades than have been predicted by teachers.
The Times, The Daily Telegraph, The Guardian

Exams disrupted at 'one in five' universities
Exams have been cancelled or postponed at one in five universities because of industrial action by academics in pursuit of their pay claim, according to a survey. Marks have been withheld or coursework left unmarked at more than than a quarter of them, and almost two fifths admit to being affected by the dispute. The disruption is adding to fears that thousands of students will be unable to graduate this summer. The unions said universities that threatened to dock lecturers’ pay would do irretrievable damage and prolong the dispute.
The Times

Strikes cause university backlog on work
Scottish universities are among dozens across Britain facing a growing backlog of work after strike action by academics caused exams to be postponed and left essays unmarked. Industrial action organised by the lecturers' unions AUT and NATFHE was last night blamed for disruption across nearly 40 per cent of Britain's universities, prompting fears that students facing exams would suffer "irretrievable damage". At Glasgow Caledonian University two exams have been postponed, affecting 57 students, while at Glasgow University first and second year oral language exams were cancelled.
The Scotsman

Private school pupils seek to climb the Ivy League
A growing number of students at top private schools are turning their backs on British universities in favour of the US where they believe they will enjoy better facilities and will not be discriminated against because of their privileged background. Some of the most famous schools in the country, including Millfield, Malvern College and St Paul's, have all confirmed a trend that headteachers say is also being driven by the appeal of a broader curriculum and the rising cost of British higher education.
The Financial Times

Students are given lessons on how to keep their virginity
An evangelical group, worried that Christian students are under enormous pressure to lose their virginity, has devised a six-week course to give them the moral strength to resist. The course, called Pure, is to be launched nationwide in the autumn after being piloted on 15 campuses. Thousands of students are expected to flock to the sessions, which will arm them with Biblical texts to help them ward off "evil thoughts" in a culture where promiscuity is rife. Run by the evangelical University and College Christian Fellowship, it will offer 65-minute sessions led by students in the hope of spreading the gospel of sexual abstinence before marriage.
The Daily Telegraph

How Einstein struggled with his grand theory - and the maths
To many he is the greatest scientist who ever lived, but a unique collection of Albert Einstein's letters and papers has revealed a history of struggle and failure made worse by an apparently shaky grasp of maths. An archive which goes on sale in London next month with a price tag of $1.5 million (£800,000) shows how after transforming physics and securing unprecedented celebrity status with his general theory of relativity in 1916, Einstein suffered years of frustration as he failed to top that with "a grand theory of everything".
The Guardian

Concern over creation of new life forms
Scientists tinkering with the machinery of life need strict policing to prevent dangerous new organisms from being created and escaping from laboratories, a coalition of environmental groups, trade unions and ethicists is warning. The groups raise concern over the field of "synthetic biology", which has already witnessed the creation of the polio virus from scratch and the resurrection of the 1918 flu virus, which claimed an estimated 40 million lives around the world.
The Guardian

From the weekend's papers:

Saturday

  • Students take to the streets as lecturers' pay row deadlock. The Guardian
  • Vice chancellors refuse to re-consider lecturers' pay. The Daily Telegraph
  • Edinburgh University fails to end pay row with 12.6 per cent pay offer. The Scotsman

Sunday

  • University vice-chancellors cause anger after receiving huge pay rises. The Sunday Express
  • Students to be protected under new Housing Act. The Mail On Sunday
  • Home Office blunder leads to some people being refused university courses. The Mail On Sunday, The Independent

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