Today's news

August 21, 2006

Universities filling up in record time
Universities were filling up in record time last night, with 35 per cent more vacancies taken during the first 72 hours of clearing compared to last year. The scramble is particularly intense this year as record A-level results mean that many young people will have got better grades than they might have been expecting. Figures from the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (Ucas), which runs the clearing service, show that 309,758 students have now confirmed their university places. But there are still set to be fewer students at university this autumn compared to last year. Ucas said that 319,777 candidates had confirmed their places at the same point last year.
The Independent

Employers say too many school leavers lack basic skills
Employers are accusing the Government and schools of letting young people down by failing to teach them basic maths and English. In a report published today, one in three businesses says it is forced to provide remedial training for employees, even those with good GCSE results. Employers describe how they have to introduce pictures and traffic light style systems to explain statistics and reluctantly rely on standard letters because their employees cannot be trusted to write appropriate and accurate replies. Some say they disguise remedial literacy and arithmetic lessons as courses in computing to reduce the stigma. "Even many graduates are incapable of producing a piece of written work that is not peppered with grammatical and spelling errors,'' said a manager for a catering firm.
The Daily Telegraph , Financial Times , The Guardian , The Independent

Protected British bats to be killed by rabies researchers
Government scientists have been given permission to capture wild bats in Britain and ship them to Germany where they will be injected with rabies and killed. Conservationists have criticised the project, claiming it is both cruel and unnecessary, as well as against the spirit of the law protecting wild bats in Britain. English Nature has granted a licence for scientists to experiment on the bats, which are listed as a "European protected species of animals" under the Habitats Directive of 1994. A spokesman for the Department for the Environment Food and Rural Affairs, which is in charge of the research, said the study is important for understanding how bats might transmit rabies to humans.
The Independent

Coleridge family sell off papers on a poet
An archive from the extended family of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, one of the great English Romantic poets, has been bought by the British Library. The vast treasury of papers revealing the family's bemused if affectionate view of the maverick talent in their midst had been kept in family ownership in Ottery St Mary, the Devon village where the poet was born, for two-and-a-half centuries. But when the family reluctantly decided this year to sell The Chanter's House, the home which was acquired by Samuel's brother James in 1796, the volumes of papers and diaries had to go too. The National Heritage Memorial Fund - the fund of last resort for saving important heritage for the nation - donated £250,000, which was boosted by grants from half a dozen other bodies to secure the family's archive for an unspecified sum.
The Independent

Tense, nervous headache? Try a nice vindaloo
Eating curry may be a better cure for headaches than aspirin, according to research. A study funded by the Scottish Executive has found that salicylic acid, the active ingredient in aspirin, occurs naturally in Indian food and that curry could help to treat migraines and prevent colon cancers. Spices such as cumin, turmeric and paprika, all of which are used in curries, are particularly rich sources of salicylic acid, the study said. Neither does Indian food cause some side-effects sometimes associated with long-term aspirin use, such as internal bleeding and ulcers, the study, conducted by the Rowett Research Institute, found.
The Times

Honours degrees not earned
The Independent

From the weekend's papers


  • Top colleges offer places to students without As. The Times
  • Coca-Cola is banned from students' union over 'unethical practices'. The Guardian


  • Universities offer discounts on tuition fees for the brightest pupils. Sunday Times
  • Cambridge drop-out says it was the best decision of her life. Sunday Times


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