Cambridge have raised their A-level entry requirements for science courses, now requiring A*A*A rather than A*AA. These changes will apply for 2015 entry onwards, effecting all science courses other than Psychological and Behavioral Sciences.Upon the introduction of the A* in 2008, Cambridge responded by immediately raising entry requirements for some subjects to include an A*, whilst Oxford lagged behind by a year. This raises the possibility that Oxford may again follow suit.The reasoning behind the change was that a high percentage, 92%, of students who met their offer were exceeding the A*AA minimum. An increase in applications from foreign students was another motive for raising the grade requirements.According to a Cambridge spokesperson, a candidate with 2 or more A*s at A-level would be better prepared to take on a challenging Cambridge course. They said, “The revised offer gives applicants a clearer indication of the level of attainment realistically required to compete for a place, and to thrive on science courses.”Cambridge student Laura Bampton, Robinson College, welcomes the change and agrees with the University about people with higher grades being better prepared, commenting, “I wouldn’t have thought twice about applying, even if the offer was higher and I doubt many people would, because nobody applies unless they’re pretty confident they’re in multiple A* territory.”One Oxford engineer noted that A-level exams in scientific subjects tend to be fairly similar in content from year to year, observing that, “in science subjects the paper on the day shouldn’t affect your result enough for it to make a difference.” He did, however, emphasise the importance of the interview in admissions decisions, adding, “Interviews are a far better marker of a candidate’s ability than A-levels, personal statements and tests.”However, the potential implications that the decision will have on access and the public’s perception of Cambridge have alarmed one student, who said, “The general reaction is one of concern at how this will affect applications from students who have the potential to be at Cambridge but are from non-traditional Cambridge backgrounds and are therefore very uncertain about applying and their likelihood of getting in.” On the other hand, in an article for the Cambidge student newspaper Varsity, Alice Udale-Smith, commented, “Whilst it may therefore seem callous to deny students without those grades the option to study here, it is infinitely preferable to awarding them a place only to watch them fail and leave without a degree at all.”The responses among Oxford students have been mixed. One second year biochemist told Cherwell, “I wouldn’t be surprised if a change to bring subjects on par with Cambridge does occur, especially if the percentage of A* achieved during A-levels increases. It should be remembered though that the majority of Cambridge’s sciences operate under the umbrella of natural sciences, whereas Oxford’s single science system means that each department is more or less responsible for it entrance requirements; such flexibility is not available in the Cambridge system.”Medic George Gillett reacted negatively to the changes from an access point of view, saying, “Higher standard offers mount an incredible challenge and disincentive to students at low-performing schools. It is a shame that Cambridge have given even greater emphasis to an indicator which is heavily influenced by teaching quality, rather than focusing more on markers of core ability, such as admissions tests.”St Anne’s computer scientist Andy Wright disagreed, commenting, “I feel that previous changes to the education system such as tuition fee rises are more unappealing than a grade rise. If a student strongly wants to apply to Cambridge they should not be put off by a grade boundary. I didn’t get A*A*A, but due to the lower grade boundaries, I could afford to do less work, indeed having a job at home to pay for university cost me revision time. With a higher boundary I would have been more focused on my work, potentially better preparing myself for the intense Oxford terms I have had.”AJ Gilbert, a mathematician, suggested that the problem could lie with the A-level system itself. He said, “My concern would be the access issue but I doubt this is something that can be dealt with just by tweaking entrance requirements. To the extent that this is an issue, maybe it says more about A-levels than admissions.”
President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has come under increased pressure to impose a partial lockdown on virus-plagued areas, with scientists saying the country is racing against time to curb the spread of COVID-19 before Idul Fitri and that a community quarantine could be the only solution to do exactly that. The President has said that he will not impose a lockdown even though two of Indonesia’s neighbors—Malaysia and the Philippines— and several European countries have decided to take the drastic measure to slow the transmission of the disease.As officials scrambled to prevent wider transmission of the novel coronavirus that has spread to at least eight provinces, infecting more than 130 and killed at least five people, Jokowi stressed the government was “not leaning toward issuing a lockdown policy” at this time. “I have to emphasize that issuing a lockdown policy, either at the national or regional level, is under the authority of the central government. Such a policy cannot be issued by regional administrations,” he told a press conference on Monday.Read also: Govt calls for coordination with regional administrations to curb COVID-19 spreadJokowi’s remark came as tensions grew between the central government and regional governments over different approaches to handling the pandemic. Several regional leaders, including Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan, have already taken stricter containment measures, such as restricting transportation services, while the President merely advised people to stay home and practice social distancing. The conflicting policies between Anies and Jokowi backfired on Monday when commuters defied Jokowi’s call to stay at home, packing bus stops and train stations —due to limited services— and fueling concerns of more contagion in the capital. Topics : With most confirmed cases located in the capital, Anies has argued that a partial lockdown is needed to keep the city safe. “We believe Jakarta should have stopped activities in the capital and prevented people from coming or leaving the city. We cannot decide this ourselves,” he said, adding that he needed to “act fast”. The Malang administration in East Java briefly imposed a lockdown on Monday before annulling the policy after Jokowi’s apparent reprimand. As Indonesian authorities squabbled over the policy, Malaysian Prime Minister announced a two-week partial lockdown nationwide after the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country rose to more than 500 in a single day on Monday. Many of the country’s infections have been linked to a global Islamic event held last month and attended by almost 20,000 people, AFP reported. Malaysian authorities said participants at the gathering from Feb. 27 to March 1 had come from Bangladesh, Brunei, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. About 700 Indonesians also attended the event, according to The Strait Times. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte made the decision to quarantine Manila’s 12 million people to contain the deadly virus last Thursday. During a nationally televised address, Duterte also announced a month of school closures, ban on mass gatherings and prohibition on the entry of foreigners from places where the contagion had spread, AFP reported. France is the latest European country to enforce a lockdown after the virus infected tens of thousands and killed thousands, most of whom were Italians, on the continent. Calls for a lockdown come amid concerns that the Indonesian government has failed to act fast to prevent the spread of the virus at an early stage and appears to have no clear strategy or willingness to carry out massive testing on suspected coronavirus-positive patients for a limited quarantine. As of Monday, Indonesia has only tested 1,230 people , while South Korea has tested more than 200,000 people, allowing it to conduct effective tracing and contain the spread of the virus without having to impose a nationwide lockdown. A group of scientists from the Indonesian Young Scientist Forum (YSF) has called on the Jokowi administration to impose a partial lockdown on certain areas to prevent sustained community transmission before Idul Fitri, during which millions of Muslims travel to their hometowns to celebrate the religious festivity. The group argued that Indonesia might have entered the second phase of the epidemic, in which community transmission has occurred, with many people unaware they have been infected and tracing cases becoming harder to do. “It is now time for a [partial] lockdown as it has become a pandemic,” Fenny Dwivanily, a molecular biologist at the Bandung Institute of Technology and a member of the YSF.Read also: Scientists call for lockdown to contain COVID-19 ahead of Ramadan, ‘mudikThe President has the legal basis to impose a partial lockdown. The 2018 Health Quarantine Law stipulates that community quarantine or partial lockdown “is imposed on all members of an area if a laboratory test confirms that community transmission has occurred in the said area.” Chairul Anwar Nidom, the chair of Airlangga University’s Avian Influenza Research Center, said a lockdown could be done not based on administrative areas and could even be done on each island. “This is a huge task, but it could be done,” he said. “On Java, for instance, with the assumption that 1 percent of the population is at risk of being infected then the government needs to have health facilities for around 1 million patients,” he said. “Java becomes a quarantined single area. All governors and regents will work together and will not issue different policies.”
Related Super Eagles of Nigeria captain, John Mikel Obi has returned to the pitch after a four-months injury lay off, in time for Nigeria’s crucial world cup qualifier next month.Mikel Obi featured for 90 minutes in Tianjin TEDA 2-0 home loss in the Chinese Super League game against Hebei CFFC on Monday.185 – No outfield player for Chelsea took longer to score their first Premier League goal than John Obi Mikel (185 games). Patient. pic.twitter.com/yh8NAVYX6q— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) January 6, 2017The 30-year-old, who underwent a hip injury surgery in April, Nigerian move to the Chinese Super League to join Tianjin TEDA after 12 years with Premier League giants, Chelsea.Hopefully, Mikel Obi will stays fit for the Super Eagles, as the Gernot Rohr led team face Cameroon in next months double legged all important 2018 World Cup qualifier.