Today's news

January 2, 2007

Students overcharged as loans system fails
Thousands of graduates are being overcharged for their student loans every year and calls to overhaul the system are growing. Government figures show that more than 21,000 people continued making payments to the Student Loans Company last year even though they had already repaid their debt. David Willetts, the Shadow Education Secretary, said the "Kafkaesque'' system was not fit for purpose.
Daily Telegraph

Conservatives warn of crisis from failings of skills training
Plans to improve skills in the workforce have been outlined by the Conservatives, who warn that Britain faces a social and economic crisis with nearly half of all businesses struggling to recruit qualified staff. An interim report from the party's policy review says employees are "cheated of their chance to prosper" by a vocational training system that is saddled with bureaucracy and that devotes too little money to intermediate skills.
Financial Times

Wikipedia links used to build smart reading lists
Software that generates a list of reading material tailored to a person's individual interests has been developed by a PhD student in the US. Alexander Wissner-Gross, a physics student at Harvard University, teaches a course to undergraduates student at his university. While preparing the reading list for his course, he began to wonder about ways to automate the process. Mr Wissner-Gross says he saw similarities between the structure of his course and the way information is connected via links in Wikipedia, a free online encyclopaedia written and edited by volunteers.
New Scientist

76 per cent believe in streaming pupils
More than three quarters of people believe that bright children should be taught separately to push them further, according to a new study. The overwhelming majority either want more streaming by ability in comprehensive schools or the chance to send high-fliers to selective grammar schools. Almost as many people said that weaker children could also benefit from being segregated at school, said the report by the Centre for Policy Studies, a right-wing think-tank.
Daily Telegraph

Scientists find way to slash cost of drugs
Two UK-based academics have devised a way to invent new medicines and get them to market at a fraction of the cost charged by big drug companies, enabling millions in poor countries to be cured of infectious diseases and potentially slashing the drugs bill of the National Health Service. Sunil Shaunak, professor of infectious diseases at Imperial College, London, calls the revolutionary new model "ethical pharmaceuticals".
The Guardian

Little gadget that could banish insomnia
A pocket-sized device that is used for 15 minutes before bed has been developed to treat insomnia. The gadget, which enables users to lower their own heartbeat by regulated deep breathing, has started clinical trials at Duke University in America. Results with patients treated for stress suggest it can be highly effective, and its developers say the effects kick in within two weeks for most patients.
Daily Mail

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