Today's news

October 25, 2006

Labour signals return of the 'O level'
Schools may be allowed to return to the more rigorous exam system abandoned when the GCSE replaced O levels 18 years ago, the Government indicated last night. Lord Adonis, the education minister, announced a consultation on whether state schools should be allowed to enter candidates for the IGCSE, the O level type qualification which has survived because two exam boards continue to sell it abroad. Most IGCSEs do not include course work and have retained a broader range of content but they are not on the approved list of qualifications for state schools in Britain.
Daily Telegraph , The Times

German institutions chart independent path
Legislators in Germany's largest state are today expected to free the hands of the region's 33 universities to decide what courses to offer and which professors to employ. Today's move by the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, which also gives universities greater legal freedoms and complete control over budgets, is designed to overcome the downsides of Germany's traditionally egalitarian approach - poor quality teaching, lack of competitiveness and low ranking in international university league tables. Universities have welcomed the move, arguing that autonomy will enable them to play to their strengths, raising teaching and research standards.
Financial Times

Retired lecturer loses £150,000 to share pushers
A retired university lecturer has lost nearly £150,000 to aggressive share pushers based abroad selling him high risk shares. Certain stockbrokers use high pressure sales tactics to sell extremely risky shares to older investors in often small US-based companies. Dr Martin Fraser, 71, from Aberdeen admits: 'I must have a particularly gullible and trusting nature as I have been involved in a series of these scams. 'It seems that once one gets its hooks into you, they all get wind of it and you are vulnerable to their ploys.'
Daily Mail

Palace is invaded by giant bugs and Martian scientists
Buckingham Palace became a science lab yesterday as 100 scientists invaded the Queen's home and the remains of a giant, extinct flying reptile hovered over the monarch. The transformation of the royal residence comes as The Royal Society, the Institute of Physics and the Royal Society of Chemistry have warned that more young people must be inspired to study the sciences to ensure the nation retains its place as a world leader in research so that the UK's economy can flourish. Almost 1,000 GCSE and A-level students packed into the palace's grand ballroom for the special science day.
Daily Telegraph , The Times

'Stop the looters destroying history'
The cultural treasures of Iraq - the birthplace of writing, codified law, mathematics, medicine and astronomy - are being obliterated as looters take advantage of the country's bloody chaos. Fourteen of the world's leading archaeologists have written to the President and Prime Minister of the country, demanding immediate action to stem the vandalism after seeing photographs of sites left pockmarked by enormous craters.
The Times

Brainboxes find a £5m formula for lottery win
Most of us believe that winning the lottery is, by its very nature, purely down to the luck of the draw. But a syndicate of university professors and tutors thought it could also be related to the principles of mathematical probability. And on Saturday night, their theory was spectacularly vindicated - when they matched all six numbers and scooped the £5.3 million Lotto jackpot. The syndicate, made up of 17 staff members at Bradford University and College, bagged the big prize by using two boxes, 49 pieces of paper and a large amount of brainpower.
Daily Mail

Older mothers pass on fertility risks
Women who delay motherhood could be damaging the fertility of any daughters they go on to have, scientists said yesterday. A study found the age at which the mothers of a group of women undergoing IVF gave birth had an impact on whether their treatment resulted in pregnancies. Scientists warned the fertility rates of future generations could be hit by the increasing number of women waiting until their thirties before having their first baby.
Daily Telegraph , Daily Mail , The Independent , The Times

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