Today's news

July 24, 2006

EU ministers prepare for stem cell debate
European ministers were meeting this morning to decide whether to follow the lead of the United States and ban funding for research into human embryonic stem cells. At today's European Council meeting, eight European Union states, including Germany, are expected to vote to halt continuing EU funding for stem cell research on surplus embryos from fertility treatment. The move comes less than a week after the US president, George Bush, used his power of veto to scupper a controversial bill which would have lifted a ban on US federal funding for stem cell research.
The Guardian

Hawking criticises EU states trying to ban stem cell research
Stephen Hawking, the world's best-known living scientist, has attacked "reactionary" forces in Europe and America which are trying to ban research into stem cells from human embryos. Professor Hawking, who suffers from motor neurone disease, has criticised President George Bush and European governments who want to stop the funding of research with embryonic stem cells, which promises to revolutionise the treatment of many incurable conditions.
The Independent

Minister in pre-emptive attack on critics of exam grades
Alan Johnson, the Education Secretary, stood accused of fooling himself yesterday, as he prepared to defend the rising number of A grades at GCSE and A level in recent years. Weeks before this year’s results are published, Mr Johnson will launch a pre-emptive strike against critics of the ever-rising pass rate by insisting that pupils are simply getting better at exams.
The Times, The Daily Telegraph, The Guardian

Scots battle lines drawn over funding
A major divide opened up last night over the future of university funding, with the SNP claiming it would abolish all student loans and Andrew Cubie, a leading education funding expert, warning that students would have to pay more. Nicola Sturgeon, the SNP's Holyrood leader, will this week unveil her party's university education policy for next year's elections, the central tenet of which will be a return to free university education for all. The SNP will promise a £100 million package to end the graduate endowment - the bill students have to pay after they graduate, introduced instead of tuition fees.
The Scotsman

Debt keeps graduates off property ladder
A quarter of graduates claim they will not be able to get on to the property ladder for the foreseeable future because of their student debts, research showed today. Only one in 10 people who have left university since 2001 currently own their own home, with 58 per cent saying they have been unable to purchase somewhere because of their debts, according to debt consultancy Thomas Charles. Just over a third of those questioned said they thought the amount they owed would delay them from buying a house for up to three years, while 23 per cent did not think they would be able to buy for between three and five years.
The Guardian

Animal rights group seeks to lift ban on 'political' broadcasts
The ban on "political" advertising on radio and TV, which prevents thousands of campaigning organisations from airing their views through the broadcast media, will be challenged in a test case that goes to the high court today. Animal Defenders International, whose My Mate's a Primate television ad was turned down for broadcast, will argue that the ban breaches article 10 of the European convention on human rights, which guarantees freedom of expression.
The Guardian

Students urged to apply for engineering scholarships
A-level students have failed to apply for engineering scholarships to study at university this year despite latest figures showing a drop in the number of poorer students going on to higher education, it has emerged. The Institution of Engineering and Technology, the largest engineering and technology institution in Europe, said it still had £30,000 worth of scholarships available for students.
The Guardian

Cancer drug can damage the heart, scientists warn
Scientists warned yesterday that a drug used to treat cancer, including leukaemia and stomach tumours, can damage the heart. Glivec was the first of a new generation of "magic bullet" cancer drugs that, with leukaemia, can turn off the enzyme that causes white blood cells to multiply out of control. New evidence shows that it has side effects that can lead to heart failure. The enzyme it targets happens to be vital to a healthy heart, scientists discovered.
The Daily Telegraph, The Times

From the weekend's papers:


  • Imperial College London sets out strategy to secure funding for research. The Financial Times
  • Vedanta chairman gives $1 billion to set up university in India. The Financial Times
  • A new post has been created to market the ideas from Edinburgh University's new school of informatics. The Scotsman


  • The number of scientific experiments on animals has risen to a 14-year high. The Observer
  • Cost rather than course is increasingly the deciding factor when students decide which university to attend. The Mail On Sunday

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