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Today's news

Fast-track degrees attract career-minded students
The new nine-to-five degree, which spells the end to three-month summer vacations, is proving a hit with lawyers, hoteliers and professionals keen to get ahead in the job market. As the first full-time fast-track students embarked on their courses yesterday, universities piloting the revolutionary programmes were already turning away candidates, having filled their quotas. The new degree compresses three years’ work into two, as students toil through both summer vacations. It costs £3,000 less than a traditional honours course and ministers hope that this will encourage more people who are put off by top-up fees and student debts to apply.
The Times

LSE students oppose PM’s school
Tony Blair has run into a wall of opposition over plans to set up a “school of government” on his retirement. Aides of the Prime Minister are sounding out academics at the London School of Economics about establishing the university body. The institution, tentatively named the Tony Blair School of Government would be modelled on the John F Kennedy Institution at Harvard in the United States and would deal with foreign and domestic policy issues. But students at the LSE today warned of a protests on an “unprecedented” scale if Downing Street pushes ahead. Student union leaders claim Mr Blair is a pariah figure in academic circles because of the Iraq war and tuition fees.
The Evening Standard (London)

To the edge of space for £1,000
From the edge of space a tiny camera captures the dramatic curvature of the Earth during a test flight that is one small step for Cambridge University students aiming to launch a rocket into space for under £1,000. Engineers Carl Morland, Henry Hallam and Robert Fryers attached the camera to a helium balloon and released it from Churchill College on its flight to 32km (20 miles). As it rose and the air got thinner, the balloon expanded until two hours later it popped, releasing the camera, which plummeted at 100mph before being slowed by a parachute. Throughout the flight, the camera captured more than 800 images.
The Guardian, The Times

Directory to list graduate skills by degree
Employers can discover the diverse skills that graduates from different disciplines can bring to the workplace with a new directory due to be published today. The directory has a list of 52 different degree programmes, from accountancy to Welsh, and details the specific employment skills that graduates can be expected to develop during their study. Employers, for example, can expect philosophy graduates to have good analytical skills, have the ability to think logically and be good communicators.
The Guardian

Red carpet rolled out for university teaching awards
Fifty of the best lecturers in England and Northern Ireland will tonight receive prizes of £10,000 at the "lecturers' Oscars" for their work. The Higher Education Academy does not attempt the glitz of its Hollywood counterpart but the awards, now in their seventh year, are part of its efforts to increase the profile of teaching in universities where careers and prestige tend to be dominated by research. This year, for the first time, the academy is offering best motion picture-type awards as well as individual best actor, sorry - lecturer, prizes.
The Guardian

Why taste for coffee is all in the genes
A taste for espresso in the morning may be genetic, according to research that has identified the first known receptor cells for caffeine. Scientists have discovered that a single protein determines whether fruit flies eat sugar laced with caffeine or avoid its bitter taste. It is not yet known whether the gene that controls production of the protein, Gr66a, has a similar effect in humans, but the discovery of a caffeine receptor does suggest that a taste for coffee is likely to be affected by genes.
The Times

Drug can help cut diabetes risk, say researchers
A drug that improves the body's ability to turn sugars into fuel can substantially reduce the chances of people at risk of Type 2 diabetes developing the disease, according to research. In a large international trial volunteers with "pre-diabetes" taking rosiglitazone, sold under the brand name Avandia, were 60 per cent less likely than those on placebos to develop the full disease. The drug, already prescribed to those with Type 2 diabetes, was also found to help patients return to normal blood sugar levels. Some 1.8 million of the 2.1 million people with diabetes in the UK have the Type 2 disease.
The Daily Telegraph

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