Today's news

RAE reform to shut out one in three
A third of English higher education institutions will be excluded from the research assessment exercise under plans unveiled this week. The university casualties are Leeds Metropolitan, London Metropolitan, Thames Valley, Central England, Derby, Lincoln, Staffordshire, Teesside and Wolverhampton. Some 28 colleges would no longer receive Hefce research grants. The proposals from the Higher Education Funding Council for England would affect institutions where research accounts for less than 2 per cent of the total teaching and research grants. Institutions with a large student body and pockets of research excellence would be hit particularly hard.
• Read the full story in this week's edition of The THES - available in shops today.

Oxford's state school intake falls
The number of state school students accepted by Oxford has fallen this year, despite the university's efforts to shed its elitist image. Offers made by tutors to state candidates for entry in October fell to 1,781, compared with 1,955 last year and 1,855 the year before. Over the same three-year period the total number of offers to independent school candidates remained constant: 1,529 in 2001, 1,536 in 2002, and 1,522 this year. The figures, which are not due to be officially published until December, are a severe embarrassment to the university, which has been under attack from ministers since the Laura Spence affair three years ago.
(Guardian, Times)

How dons trip up the Oxbridge hopefuls
The arcane image of the Oxbridge interview was enhanced yesterday by the release of some of the more baffling questions put to this year's applicants. Candidates had to figure out whether the Eurovision Song Contest was an example of living nationalism, whether a good liar makes a good lawyer and if "people living on the streets are mad if they can sing". The questions, from a survey of 1,000 Oxbridge applicants, will be seized on by critics who believe that the system is unfair to candidates who have not been groomed for the process. The universities, which have recently tried to demystify the interviews, said yesterday that obscure questions were a good way to test a candidate's lateral thinking and logical coherence.
(Times, Daily Telegraph)

Cardiff test could identify killer psychopaths
Psychopathic murderers have a twisted perception of pain and suffering, and fail to see violence as unpleasant, a study has shown. Scientists at Cardiff University have devised a test that could help to identify psychopaths before they commit serious crimes. Their findings, published in the journal Nature, are based on interviews with 13 psychopathic and 17 non-psychopathic murderers at a secure mental hospital.
(Independent)

Universities make us open-minded
University of Plymouth vice-chancellor Roland Levinsky expresses his views on the what universities are for debate.
(Independent)

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£246 million is big money but it is probably much less than the hit the research budget would take if the REF did not exist, says Paul Jump