Today's news

August 16, 2006

Graduate debt falls as students find work to support themselves
Student debt has fallen for the first time in 13 years as undergraduates increasingly take on part-time jobs to fund their studies, a survey shows. Undergraduates are also cutting back on their spending and getting more financial help from their parents because of growing fears about going into the red, the survey of 1,500 students for The Push Guide to Student Money found. Students now owe an average of £3,103 for every year they spend in higher education, meaning that most will graduate owing just over £9,300. This represents a drop of 9 per cent on last year's figures - the first decrease since The Push Guide was first published in 1993.
The Independent

10,000 grade-A students 'rejected' by Oxbridge
Fresh concerns were raised about the 'gold standard' of A-levels yesterday as it emerged that 10,000 straight-A students have been rejected by Oxbridge. The bright sixth-formers did not receive offers from Oxford and Cambridge, even though they are predicted to achieve at least three grade As when results are released tomorrow. They were turned down because there is now a surfeit of teenagers with top qualifications, making it increasingly difficult for universities to distinguish between them. The figure will fuel concern that A-levels are becoming increasingly meaningless. The pass rate is expected to nudge 100 per cent as it rises for the 24th consecutive year.
Daily Mail

Gap year students accused of being charity tourists
Gap year students who take their skills to developing nations may be doing more harm than good, a volunteer organisation said yesterday. A Voluntary Service Overseas spokesman said many "year out'' programmes were no more than a form of new colonialism in which rich westerners indulged in a form of "charity tourism''. Not only are the trips the source of dinner party stories of questionable interest, they could actually leave their destinations in a worse state than before they arrived.
Daily Telegraph

Next problem: where's the genius who solved $1m maths puzzle?
The search is on for a reclusive Russian mathematics genius who has solved a century-old problem called the Poincare conjecture. Grigori Perelman, 40, known as "Grisha", is a leading contender to win the Fields Medal, the mathematics equivalent of a Nobel prize, at the International Congress of Mathematicians in Madrid next Tuesday. He is also in line to receive a $1 million (£530,000) cash prize from an American institute for his proof of one of the seven greatest mathematical mysteries. However, colleagues describe Dr Perelman, who is said to have resigned his post at the renowned Steklov Institute of Mathematics in St Petersburg, as an unworldly figure who may not turn up in Madrid even if he wins his profession's top honour.
The Times

Scientists find space for three new planets
The number of planets in our Solar System is expected to increase from nine to 12 next week and could rise further after scientists redefined their terms. After two years of grappling with the thorny issue, astronomers have altered the definition of the word "planet'' in such a way that it increases their number for the first time in 76 years. Pluto, whose planetary status has been under threat since the discovery last year of a larger celestial body, is likely to be reprieved. A committee convened by the International Astronomical Union has proposed a new class of planets called "plutons'', or Pluto-like objects.
Daily Telegraph, The Independent , The Times

New species gives game away with its Scottish twang
The crimson-feathered Scottish crossbill has been identified by scientists as a separate species because of what researchers describe as its distinct accent. A study by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds claims to have proved for the first time that the flutey "chup, chup" of Loxia scotica is unique to the bird. Researchers said that its Highland twang differs from that of the common crossbill, which makes a warbling "chip, chip" sound, and the parrot crossbill, which has a deep "kop, kop" call.
The Times , Daily Telegraph , The Independent

Letter
Student loan flaw.
Daily Telegraph


 

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