Today's news

January 3, 2007

Student loans system defended
The student loans system has been defended against allegations it overcharged graduates and was not "fit for purpose", after the Conservatives said 21,774 former students continued to make repayments last year despite having cleared their debts. Figures showed the number of people being overcharged was increasing: 12,538 overpaid in 2004, 7,686 in 2003 and 2,062 in 2002. But the Student Loans Company said the increase was simply because of the rising numbers emerging from universities since the system of repayable loans was introduced in 1998.
Financial Times

Man killed by power cable in storm was renowned scientist
A renowned scientist was killed when an overhead power cable came down and struck him during a storm on New Year's Day. Professor Roland Levinsky, 63, the vice-chancellor of the University of Plymouth, was walking his dog when the accident happened in a field near his home in the coastal village of Wembury, Devon. Professor Levinsky, a world leader in the field of immunodeficiency diseases, was believed to have suffered a heart attack after 11,000 volts of electricity surged through him.
Daily Telegraph , Daily Mail , The Guardian , The Times , The THES (January 5 2007)

Bank bosses to face the music on iPods
Lloyds TSB has struggled to sign up customers to its "free iPod" student account, leaving about 44,000 Apple-made Shuffles "sitting gathering dust in a warehouse", according to a leading City analyst. James Eden at Dresdner Kleinwort said the black horse bank aimed to set up 70,000 student accounts, but at the start of October after the college term had started it had shifted just 26,000 of the music boxes.
Daily Mail , Daily Telegraph , Financial Times

University centre paved way for plastic microchip
The list of achievements of Cambridge University's Cavendish Laboratory is about to get a little longer. Responsible over the past 136 years for a series of discoveries, including the electron and DNA, the laboratory can count among its more recent breakthroughs a form of circuitry that could change radically the world's electronics industry. Plastic Logic, a Cambridge-based start-up, has attracted $100m (£50.6m) of investment that will fund a plant to make plastic semiconductors - the first of its kind in the world.
Financial Times

Classics in schools are 'facing extinction'
The teaching of Classics in British schools has become a postcode lottery, with Latin and Greek likely to disappear from the state sector in some parts of the country in as little as five years. A study into the demise of classical languages suggests that they could vanish from all schools within 25 years unless substantial changes are made to the GCSE. Bob Lister, one of only two lecturers in England to train Classics teachers and author of the research, said that the subjects will soon become the preserve of a wealthy elite, unless urgent steps are taken.
The Times

Scientists warn about celebrity mumbo-jumbo
Musicians, actors and models should check their facts before using their status to promote alternative health theories and fad diets, scientists say. Many people start the New Year with good intentions of exercise and healthy eating - sometimes based on endorsements from public figures with poor understanding of the science behind their recommendations. The charity Sense About Science warns celebrities in a leaflet that they have a responsibility to make sure they are not doing more harm than good by promoting "quackery and mumbo-jumbo''.
Daily Telegraph , Financial Times , The Times

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