Today's news

November 21, 2006

Universities to get extra money for giving places to the poor
Britain’s elite research universities were warned last night that they could forfeit millions of pounds in a shake-up of higher education. David Eastwood, head of England’s university funding council, says that in future, universities admitting a large number of students from poor backgrounds were likely to receive as much public funding as those that concentrate on research. The shift will make it harder for middle-class students to get places at university. At present almost a third (32 per cent) of all research funding goes to just five institutions: Oxford, Cambridge, Manchester, Imperial and University College London. These admit among the lowest number of students from poor backgrounds.
The Times

Reading votes to close physics department
The University of Reading last night confirmed its controversial decision to close the physics department. The move was immediately condemned by the Institute of Physics, which said the Government was at last waking up to the need for extra money to fund high cost subjects. In a terse statement, the university - which has been under widespread attack for its proposal - confirmed that the ruling council had voted by 18 to five for the closure, with one abstention. "The welfare and teaching of existing physics students will be a priority until the department closes," added the statement.
The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph

US group plans UK for-profit university
A major US education company is bidding to become Britain’s first for-profit private university. Kaplan International, a division of the Washington Post newspaper company, is preparing to apply to the Privy Council to award its own degrees, putting it on a collision course with the UK’s traditional universities. The company already has a sizeable presence in the UK’s professional education market and will initially want to offer degrees in courses it already provides at its UK centres, such as law, business studies and accountancy, according to its chief executive, William Macpherson.
The Financial Times

Student climbers freeze to death in Cairngorms
An 18-year-old climbing enthusiast on his first winter ascent and his 23-year-old companion were found dead in the Cairngorms yesterday after apparently freezing to death. The pair, from Aberdeen University Climbing Club, were discovered just hundreds of yards from safety but were so cold and disorientated that they collapsed as they attempted to walk the extra 20 minutes to save themselves. The men, who have yet to be named, were rushed to hospital by an RAF helicopter after being found unconscious in Coire an t-Sneachda, a popular climbing area near Aviemore, but were declared dead on arrival. They had apparently turned back after abandoning the ascent halfway up.
The Times, The Scotsman, The Guardian

City students' life-saving arsenic test
A team of Edinburgh undergraduates has devised a test to enable millions of people around the world who drink water contaminated with arsenic to check whether bore holes are safe. The experts from Edinburgh University found a simple way for villagers to analyse water - using a modified strain of the food poisoning bug E.coli - without the need for laboratory analysis. The test uses a colour-coded system where the water turns red or blue to indicate whether it contains arsenic. Up to 100 million people worldwide - including up to 35 million in Bangladesh - drink water which is contaminated after filtering through arsenic-rich rocks, and it causes a range of cancers.
The Scotsman

Ads could knock spots off butterfly wings
A glowing green logo drawn by scientists on the wing of a genetically altered butterfly could herald the day that the insects are adorned with adverts and slogans. A team at the University at Buffalo that developed the world's first GM butterfly has now adapted the work to create the fluorescent marking on the wings of the insect to demonstrate an innovative tool that will make it easier to find out what genes do, in this case those that play a role in making the patterns on wings, from stripes to eye spots. The researchers demonstrated their method by using a laser to stencil the silhouette of a butterfly upon the surface of a butterfly's wing.
The Daily Telegraph

Letters
Regarding Christian students and their unions in universities.
The Times

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