Oxford's superiority over 'poly' is history
Oxford University is reforming its history department after inspectors ranked it beneath its rival at the city's former polytechnic, Oxford Brookes University. The department, where dons such as A. J. P. Taylor and Eric Hobsbawm established their reputations, has been shamed into taking drastic action to improve its research ratings: tutorials are being cut back and lecturers have been dragooned into an intensive study programme.
Bristol scraps admission targets
Bristol University abolished internal admission targets for students from state schools after allegations that it was operating a quota system. It will replace them with guidelines showing how each department intends to reduce the required A-level grades for students from schools with a history of poor exam results.
(The Times, The Independent, The Guardian)
Top-up fees high on agenda for Oxford's new head
One of John Hood's first tasks as Oxford's new vice-chancellor will be to set the level of top-up tuition fees prior to their introduction in 2006. Dr Hood, a graduate of the University of Auckland who spent two years in Oxford as a Rhodes scholar at Worcester College in the late 1970s, said that he was "humbled" by his appointment, which takes effect in October 2004.
A-level pupils to learn skills of answering back
A-level students will for the first time be given lessons in how to think. The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, the government's exams watchdog, is planning to introduce an A-level exam in critical thinking, which students will be able to take from September 2005.
Advice scheme 'favours school dropouts'
The government's new £500 million-a-year careers service has been accused of abandoning middle-class children in favour of those who have dropped out of the system. College leaders say that a funding squeeze in the Connexions service means resources are being targeted at those outside education, employment or training.
Shy toddlers risk mental disorders as adults, tests find
Shy toddlers are likely to grow into shy adults whose emotional inhibitions put them at greater risk of developing more serious mental disturbances in later life, a 20-year study has found. The research was carried out a team led by Carl Schwartz, a psychologist at the Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston, US.
(The Independent, Daily Mail, The Times)
Office moaner might be mentally ill
The office moaner whingeing about the boss or the may not simply be the misery guts you had always thought. German researchers at the University of Berlin have now added post-traumatic embitterment disorder to the growing list of health hazards lurking in the workplace. (Daily Telegraph, The Times)
A 7p sachet that saves 5,000 lives a day
The deaths of 5,000 children caused every day by drinking contaminated water could be avoided with a seven-pence sachet of powder that can turn 10 litres of muddy liquid into water, say scientists at the International Council of Nurses and the United States Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.
(Daily Telegraph, Financial Times)
Protesters head for crop summit
Anti-globalisation protesters are planning to converge on the California state capital, Sacramento, at the weekend to demonstrate against a conference run and funded by the US government on genetically modified food. Protesters claim that the conference is a desperate attempt to save the embattled GM food industry.
Berry serves up cancer benefit
The strawberries that tennis fans eat at Wimbledon could be doing them more good than they realise. Studies by the Institute for Food Research suggest the fruit may have properties that inhibit the growth of cancer cells.
Mercury's role in autism revived
Controversy over a suspected link between mercury and autism has been reignited by research showing that children diagnosed with autism may have problems excreting the heavy metal. The study is in the New Scientist .
GM bacterium to tackle bowel disease
A genetcially modified bacterium could soon be tested on human beings, following approval by the Dutch government of trials of bacteria that may tackle bowel disease. The bacterium has been rendered safe by a group of scientists at Ghent University in Belgium.
Cold water coral may be destroyed
Europe's coral may disappear before scientists have had a chance to examine its role in marine ecology. Deep-sea trawlers are bringing up chunks of coral in their nets, say scientists in New Scientist .
Jabs keep liver cancer at bay
A breakthrough can prolong the lives of cancer patients who have been given only months to live, doctors at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, US, said yesterday. The technique involves injecting drugs directly into the tumour of sufferers with liver cancer, one of the most lethal types of the disease.