Today's news

January 19, 2007

Fees cause fall in university applications
The number of university applications dropped by almost 16,000 this year following the introduction of £3,000-a-year tuition fees. Student leaders said the figures - which represent a 3 per cent decline in just 12 months - caused "grave concern" and demanded an urgent review of fee levels. For the first time, students starting courses in September last year were charged the higher top-up fee to cover increases in university teaching costs. Experts say the charge will saddle graduates with debts approaching £33,000 and will lead to many teenagers from poor backgrounds rejecting university altogether.
The Daily Telegraph, The Guardian

Report sets new objectives for trainee teachers
Graduate teachers are more professional and better able to control pupil behaviour but are less skilled in applying their subject knowledge to teaching, a new report reveals. The graduate teacher programme is successful in recruiting good candidates, especially in secondary shortage subjects, according to a report from the standards watchdog Ofsted. The report found that the overall quality of teaching by trainees on the programme was better in 2005-06, compared with the previous two years.
The Guardian

Harvard professor withdraws resignation
A Harvard University professor who accused the school of gender discrimination has withdrawn her resignation, but said yesterday that the school's landscape architecture department remains a bastion of sexism. Martha Schwartz, 56, complained that the department has never had a tenured female professor in its 106 years. "I'm not pointing at any one person or any one thing, but this should have happened a long time ago," Schwartz, who lives in London, said in a telephone interview. Schwartz, who has taught at the university since 1992 while developing an international landscape architecture practice.
The Guardian

Dissolvable dress height of throwaway fashion
This is the ultimate in disposable fashion. A symbol of our throwaway society - not to mention the stuff of male fantasies. But, to the professors who designed this disappearing dress, it is a profound artistic statement about how plastics can be made to be kinder to our polluted planet. Here is the world's first dissolvable dress, the culmination of a creative partnership at the University of Sheffield between the award-winning designer Helen Storey and Tony Ryan, a leading chemist, to show off new materials that can make consumer products less environmentally harmful.
The Daily Telegraph

Students too dim for media studies
Some students of media studies - often criticised as the original "Mickey Mouse" degree - are being sent on remedial courses because their English is so poor, it has emerged. Lecturers say even some with good A-levels are arriving at university ill-prepared to tackle the demands of the course. They are not in the habit of reading and are intent on looking for a single right answer instead of using critical judgment on books, films or TV programmes. Lecturers at Kingston University, South-West London, said they are forced to give new students lessons in basic skills, reducing time spent on more abstract studies.
The Daily Mail, The Times Higher Education Supplement (Jan 19)

Shamed cloner's collaborator faked research elsewhere
The disgraced South Korean cloning researcher Woo Suk Hwang was not the only bad apple in the bowl: Jong Hyuk Park, a former member of Hwang's team, has now been barred from receiving US federal funds for three years after falsifying separate work. Hwang's claim to have created cloned lines of human embryonic stem cells imploded in late 2005, when he admitted to irregularities in his data. Less widely reported was the revelation that problems with misconduct extended to other papers published by Hwang's colleagues at Seoul National University and the nearby MizMedi Hospital - some of which did not bear Hwang's name.
New Scientist

Folic acid sets back effects of ageing on the brain
Folic acid, the vitamin prescribed to pregnant women, could be a brain saver, a study has found. People who took high dose supplements of folic acid did significantly better in tests of memory and cognitive performance than those given a placebo, researchers report. The vitamin is found in green leafy vegetables, beans and liver but few people in the UK and northern Europe obtain high enough levels from diet alone. Average intake is around 200 micrograms a day, half the recommended amount.
The Independent, The Daily Telegraph, The Times

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