Today's news

December 13, 2006

University offers cut-price courses for top students
A university is seeking high-flyers by offering a £2,000-a-year discount in top-up fees to students with three grade As at A-level. The offer, by Oxford Brookes University, illustrates the increasing competition among universities for students. Any student who accepts the offer will have their £3,000-a-year top-up fee cut by two-thirds if they obtain three A grades at A-level or advanced Scottish Higher, or 35 out of a maximum 45 points in the international baccalaureate. The scholarship could be worth £8,000 because it is available every year of a four-year course.
The Independent

Elite universities under pressure to accept vocational students
Universities could be "bullied" into admitting applicants with job-related diplomas instead of A-levels, it emerged yesterday. They are worried ministers will use targets and financial bribes to persuade dons to accept the new qualifications. Ministers are promoting the practical diplomas as a possible route to university for all sixth-formers, including academic high-fliers. But some leading universities, including Oxford, have signalled their reluctance to accept vocational qualifications.
The Daily Mail

Johnson tells of unfulfilled potential
The education secretary, Alan Johnson, said yesterday that he regretted that he had not been to university. The minister said his decision to leave school and start work meant he had not fulfilled his potential and had missed out on the confidence boost that university can provide. Mr Johnson, who entered politics through the trade union route after working as a postman, suggested he might still go into higher education one day in the modern era of "lifelong learning". Speaking at a conference in London, he said it was "a constant regret" that he had not studied for a degree.
The Guardian

£60m Napier campus plan to breathe new life into Sighthill
University chiefs yesterday unveiled plans for a £60 million campus featuring a £5 million sports centre in Sighthill. The revamped Napier University campus will be home to nearly 4,000 students and is being built as a catalyst for the regeneration of the area. The university's existing seven-storey tower block will be completely gutted and rebuilt and replaced with what university bosses hope will be an iconic building. The new sports centre, which will complement council plans for an athletics arena nearby, will feature a swimming pool and other facilities that will be open to the public.
The Scotsman

Experiments on primates are 'morally required' by drug testing
Experiments with monkeys are “morally required” as the only way to answer scientific questions of crucial importance to human health, an expert inquiry said yesterday. The development of vaccines against the world’s three most lethal infectious conditions - HIV/Aids, malaria and tuberculosis, which together kill seven million people each year - will rely on work involving nonhuman primates for the foreseeable future, the panel chaired by Sir David Wetherall found. Primate research is also essential if scientists are to understand brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, the report concluded.
The Times, The Guardian

Science is in need of more care
Prospect, which represents scientists in both the public and private sectors, is calling for urgent action to stem the loss of key research facilities and staff across the UK. It may not be immediately obvious why we are so concerned. After all, public sector science has a record to be proud of, and neither the Holyrood nor Westminster parliaments is anti-science. Far from it - since 1997 we have seen significant increases in expenditure on the science base. However, good science doesn't always have commercial applications, and science in the public interest is now more than ever under threat.
The Scotsman

£5m left by scientist who boosted surgery
A Scottish scientist who developed a drug that revolutionised surgery has left a £5 million fortune in his will. The drug that Professor John Stenlake CBE made in the 1950s is now used in more than half of the operations in the world. The muscle relaxant Atracurium was licensed by the pharmaceuticals giant GlaxoSmithKline and the royalties made him a millionaire many times over. In his will, the professor divided the wealth between his wife, Anne, his four surviving sons and the children of his fifth son who died in an accident. Muscle relaxants are vital for operations under general anaesthetic because surgeons risk injuring patients if their muscles are tense.
The Scotsman

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