Today's papers

June 19, 2003

Research fund plans ‘threaten 8,000 jobs’
University lecturers and learned societies made stinging attacks yesterday on the government’s plan to concentrate research funding on elite institutions. An Association of University Teachers study predicts that 8,000 jobs are endangered by the threat to the funding of departments graded 4 in the most recent research assessment exercise.

Oxford picks outsider to be vice-chancellor
Oxford University has chosen a New Zealander with a long record in corporate management and experience of a deregulated tuition fee system to be its next vice-chancellor.
(THES, Financial Times)

Oxford cuts places for undergraduates to boost research
Oxford University is planning to cut the number of undergraduates it admits as part of a radical overhaul of its contentious admissions system.
(THES, The Times)

Graduates opt for more study rather than jobs
For the first time in a decade the number of students expecting to start a full-time graduate job this summer is less than the number planning to continue in postgraduate courses. Worried about the prospects of finding a well-paid job, thousands now plan to try to boost their marketability with extra qualifications or take time out to travel, according to the annual UK Graduate Careers Survey, which conducted face-to-face interviews with 15,000 youngsters.
(Financial Times, Independent)

Asteroid ‘converted emperor’
The Roman emperor Constantine may have been converted to Christianity by an asteroid exploding ‘like a nuclear blast’, scientists who examined an impact crater in the Italian Apennine mountains said yesterday.
(Daily Telegraph)

Snobbish attitude to vocational degrees criticised
‘Pernicious snobbery’ has condemned vocational studies to be seen as second best to academic ones, according to David Miliband. Speaking at the Association of Colleges conference in Cambridge yesterday, Mr Miliband signalled that the government’s reform  of secondary education would rank skills-based programmes alongside traditional subjects.
(Financial Times, Daily Telegraph)

Liver grown in lab saves lives
An artificial liver grown from human liver stem cells has kept eight patients alive while they waited for an organ transplant, doctors said yesterday. The American scientists who developed the organ said it could be used in a similar way to kidney dialysis machines.
(Daily Telegraph)

GM grass may bring an end to hay fever misery
An end to the misery of hay fever could be in sight after scientists genetically modified grass to make it hypoallergenic. Scientists at the Plant Biotechnology Centre at La Trobe University Centre at La Trobe University in Melbourne have developed several strains of rye grass in which the two main pollen allergens are reduced by up to half.
(Daily Telegraph)

Decaffeinated coffee bean grown on bush
A genetically modified coffee bush that produces decaffeinated beans has been developed by Japanese scientists. The plant was created by a team at the Nara Institute of Science, Nara, who suppressed one of three genes that play a crucial role in the synthesis of caffeine.
(Daily Telegraph, Guardian)

Tomorrow’s history is being deleted
Future historians will struggle to study the late 20th and early 21st centuries because of our shoddy and incomplete record-keeping, researchers said yesterday. Three pathologists from the University of Texas writing in Nature say the current era threatened to become a ‘digital dark age’ for future generations.
(Daily Telegraph)

Too much brushing can damage your teeth
Brushing your teeth may be damaging your health, according to a group of university researchers at Newcastle University’s School of Dental Sciences. Poor technique, excessive force and too much time spent in front of the mirror can all lead to gum disease and tooth decay.
(Daily Telegraph, Guardian, Daily Mail, Sun)

When MIT came to England
A transatlantic tie-up was meant to bring dynamism to the knowledge economy. Then came questions about its use of public money. A feature reports on how a new chief is to put it back on course.
(Financial Times)

Male sex gene still robust
Men can breathe again. They may not be doomed after all. US scientists said last night that the Y chromosome may not be withering away. Two studies in Nature today confirm that the Y chromosome contains more genes than scientists had though, and a set of safeguards that could protect genes that control sperm production.
(Guardian, Independent)

Will more mean less?
Ministers have provoked a new row by changing the rules on what it takes to become a university - institutions no longer need to be able to award research degrees. Does this mean dumbing down or will it improve teaching?

Political thinker dies
Paul Hirst, political thinker of radical scepticism and chairman of Charter 88, has died aged 57.

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