Today's news

September 13, 2006

Harvard abandons fast-track entry that favours elite
Harvard University is to drop a controversial fast-track admission system for elite students in an attempt to open up America’s top colleges to more poor and minority students. In the competition to attract top talent, Harvard’s “early admissions” policy enables it to lock in the best students four months before other candidates are allowed to apply - a system that largely benefits well-heeled applicants from good schools. Similar policies have been adopted by most of America’s top colleges, but they have been increasingly criticised as excluding poor and minority students.
The Times

Oxbridge struggle to attract working class
Harvard's move to end the right of pushy middle-class students to bag their places early will ring bells with academics in Britain. The top British universities were shamed this year by statistics indicating that the proportion of state school pupils and those from low-income families attending university had dropped to its lowest level in three years. At Oxford only 53.4 per cent of students in 2004-05 were from state schools, while at Cambridge state admissions were down to 56.8 per cent - even though 93 per cent of all schools are government-run.
The Times

Report to reveal extent of rise in overseas student numbers
The number of overseas students has doubled over the past decade, according to a report due to be published tomorrow by Universities UK. As vice-chancellors gather for the annual UUK conference in Exeter, the extent to which most of them depend on income from foreign students to balance the books emerges in the study. Institutions with more than 5,000 students from outside the UK rose from three in 2001-02 to 13 in 2004-05, while the growth in postgraduate numbers - where universities are free to charge whatever fees the market will bear - is entirely due to international students. They have become essential for the financial health of institutions and many departments would have to close without them.
The Guardian

Man gives $100m to Yeshiva University
An oil executive has donated $100 million (£53 million) to Yeshiva University - the largest gift in the school's 120-year history - to further undergraduate Jewish education, the university announced. The donation of Ronald P. Stanton, chairman of petrochemical and fertilizer fuel company Transammonia Inc., will create a fund overseen by university president Richard M. Joel to recruit top faculty, renovate and acquire university facilities and support research and scholarship. "We are extremely grateful to Ron for his historic beneficence, as well as his steadfast confidence in Yeshiva University's mission," Joel said Wednesday.
The Guardian

'Teach children sensible drinking', parents told
Parents should teach their children how to drink alcohol, according to a new report. The report, by Liverpool John Moores University's Centre for Public Health, claims that sensible drinking is a life skill that must be taught. It claims that teenagers who buy their own alcohol - either themselves or through an older sibling or friend - are more likely to be regular binge drinkers. They are also more likely to drink in public places such as bars, street corners and parks. Alcohol provided by parents, on the other hand, is more likely to be drunk in sensible amounts and under proper supervision.
The Guardian

Green tea may hold the key to long life
Green tea can make you live longer, with women getting a greater health benefit from the drink than men. People who consumed higher amounts of green tea had a lower risk of death due to all causes, according to the study of more than 40,000 adults published today. The risk of death from heart disease was reduced by 26 per cent during a seven-year period but this fell to one third in women who drank five or more cups each day. Some believe the high consumption of green tea is responsible for the "Asian paradox", the lower incidence of cardiovascular disease and cancer in Asia, where people smoke heavily.
The Daily Telegraph, The Times, New Scientist

U.S. firm joins institute to distribute stem cells
A company that said it had developed a less controversial way to produce human embryonic stem cells and an academic institute that also makes stem cells announced yesterday they would team up to distribute the valued cells. The WiCell Research Institute at the University of Wisconsin and California and Massachusetts-based Advanced Cell Technology said they would work together to give batches of the cells to researchers, provided the federal government agrees to fund them.
The Scotsman

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