Today's news

September 12, 2006

Police in step with universities
Police recruits are marching to a new, more relaxed beat: it’s out with military-style training and in with student life as trainees swap the parade ground for the student union. The new Police Science Institute being set up by Cardiff and Glamorgan universities is just part of a trend towards the professionalisation of police training, which is taking it away from big training centres and on to university campuses. Offering everything from initial training to professional development and applied research, the institute is described in The Times Higher Education Supplement as “the police equivalent of a medical school”.
The Times, The Times Higher Education Supplement (Sept 8)

Study pays off for UK graduates, report shows
Students investing in higher education in the UK can expect a much higher return in future earnings than their counterparts in most other western countries, new figures show. According to the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development, earnings for graduates are on average 58 per cent higher than those who have only completed secondary education. Only the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Switzerland and the United States have higher rates. Yet the proportion of the population studying for degrees in the UK is much lower than in other countries, figures show. The OECD's report, Education at a Glance 2006, shows that the numbers of young people embarking on degrees in the UK has risen from 48 per cent in 1998 to 52 per cent in 2004.
The Guardian, The Scotsman

Johnson criticised for FE funding cuts
MPs today condemned the education secretary, Alan Johnson, for his "grossly over-simplified" argument that colleges should offer more plumbing courses "and less pilates". The Labour-dominated Commons education select committee said there was "compelling evidence" that valuable college courses were being axed through government funding cuts. Many of these courses had been helping adults develop their careers and were not simply evening classes for the wealthy, the MPs said. The committee chairman, Barry Sheerman, said: "The Government's mantra of 'more plumbing, less pilates' grossly over-simplifies the wide benefits that can be gained from further education, not just for individuals, but for communities as well.
The Guardian

Robots hailed as safety solution
Tiny robots developed by Scottish scientists are set to improve the safety of aeroplanes, nuclear power plants and oilrigs. Measuring just 10cm square, the devices use ultrasound, electrical currents, magnetic fields and cameras to inspect structures for cracks, corrosion and leaks. Scientists at Strathclyde University believe using them will be cheaper, safer and more accurate than checks by humans. The team is working with companies including Rolls-Royce, BP, British Nuclear Fuels and Airbus. Professor Gordon Hayward, who led the project, said: "Most structural inspection is carried out by a human operator, which is time-consuming, expensive and prone to error."
The Scotsman

Vitamin D 'can halve pancreas cancer risk'
Taking vitamin D tablets has been found to nearly halve the risk of getting pancreatic cancer, in a study by US researchers. The vitamin is present in foods such as oily fish, liver and eggs and is also produced by the skin when exposed to sunlight. United States scientists found that taking the recommended US dose of ten microgrammes a day, twice the European level, appeared to reduce the risk of pancreatic cancer by 43 per cent. Those who consumed less than four microgrammes had a 22 per cent lower risk, according to an analysis of the health of more than 120,000 people.
The Scotsman

Texting slang aiding children's language skills
Sending text messages - from the slang "wot" and "wanna", to the short cut "CU L8R"- may actually be improving, not damaging, young children's spelling skills, new research shows. Contrary to popular belief, the use of text message abbreviations is linked positively with literacy achievements, researchers at Coventry University have found. Researchers Beverly Plester and Clare Wood presented the findings of their research on 35 11 year olds to the British Psychological Society's developmental section annual conference at the Royal Holloway, University of London.
The Guardian

Dip in air travel post-9/11 delayed flu spread
The sharp drop in air travel after the September 11 terrorist attacks in 2001 may have slowed the spread of flu in the US, researchers have discovered. These real-world data about ordinary flu contrast with recent computer simulations modelling the spread of pandemic bird flu. These models cast doubt on the idea that air travel restrictions could slow bird flu's spread. The new work shows that the reduction in air travel following 9/11 may have slowed the spread of ordinary flu in the US by about two weeks in the winter. Researchers suggest that reducing the number of air passengers could give some communities a few extra weeks to prepare for a pandemic bird flu virus, should it emerge.
New Scientist

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