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The UCL Media Relations team is the university’s central press office.


We connect journalists to expert academics and promote UCL research and teaching throughout the global media.


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Opinion

Nigel Farage is wrong on the aid budget - but it's an argument that's worth having

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David Hudson

Nigel Farage launched Ukip’s 2015 manifesto on Wednesday with a promise to hack deep into the foreign aid budget. Indeed, the manifesto goes so far as to suggest that the aid programme is responsible for increasing the national debt we leave to our children, writes Dr David Hudson (UCL Political Science) in The Guardian.

Labour’s immigration policies are led by public opinion, not evidence

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Labour’s commitment to controlling immigration had already been made clear by its announcement as one of Labour’s five election pledges. But the party’s manifesto goes further to explain the policies, and how they would be implemented, writes Professor Ian Preston (UCL Economics) in The Conversation.

Why employing autistic people makes good business sense

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Anna Remington

Microsoft has announced its intention to hire more autistic people – not as a charitable enterprise but because, as corporate vice-president Mary Ellen Smith said: “People with autism bring strengths that we need at Microsoft.” Employing autistic people makes good business sense, says Dr Anna Remington (UCL Institute of Education) in The Conversation.

Diverse species of world’s largest lake threatened by Mongolian dam and pipeline

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Anson Mackay

Mongolia is hoping a massive dam on its largest river could provide much needed power and water for the country’s booming mining industry. However environmental groups are concerned that the hydroelectric power plant and a related pipeline project will do immeasurable environmental damage to oldest and deepest freshwater body in the world: Lake Baikal, writes Professor Anson Mackay (UCL Geography) in The Conversation.

Game theory of Thrones: how strategy might decide who rules Westeros

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It’s that time of year when everyone and their dog takes a view on the most important political question of our times: who will sit the Iron Throne of Westeros? Recently, journalist Paul Mason used Marxism to explain the game, and others have looked at George R R Martin’s work through all kinds of lenses. But funnily enough, given the title of the series, none of them uses game theory, writes Peter Antonioni (UCL Management Science & Innovation) in The Conversation.

State of the Nation: government protection of the science budget has come at a cost

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Graeme Reid

Science and research were not at the front of the political debate in 2010. The first coalition government for a generation was cobbled together in the middle of a global economic recession and a domestic banking crisis which combined to put public spending under pressure, writes Professor Graeme Reid (Office of the UCL Vice-Provost, Research) in The Conversation.

Capitalism isn’t a recipe for perpetual crisis: It’s both stable and resilient

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Ormerod

The financial crisis did succeed in creating at least one dynamic new industry. Since the late 2000s, there has been a massive upsurge in op-ed pieces, books and even artistic performances offering a critique of capitalism. A founder member of the Monty Python team, Terry Jones, is the latest to get in on the act with his documentary Boom, Bust, Boom. The film makes use of puppetry and animation to argue that market-based economies are inherently unstable, writes Dr Paul Ormerod (UCL Clinical, Educational & Health Psychology) in City AM.

Plaid Cymru wants immigration policy to address Welsh needs

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Wales has a lower immigrant population than almost any other region in the UK. Plaid Cymru’s manifesto adopts an unabashedly positive tone, much more focused on the benefits of immigration – referring to migrants as “world-class experts and those who can help run our public services” – compared to what we might expect from some of the other parties. Unsurprisingly, the need for immigration policy to recognise the specific needs of Wales is a central theme, writes Professor Ian Preston (UCL Economics) in The Conversation.

Labour’s university fees reduction would eventually pay for itself

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In the 2010 election, higher education acquired a surprising prominence, notoriety even, as a result of the Liberal Democrats’ position on student fees. What a U-turn that was – from a promise to abolish fees entirely to acquiescence in a decision to triple them from £3,000 to £9,000. This time round it looks unlikely there will be the same excitement, writes Professor Peter Scott (UCL Institute of Education) in the Guardian.

Zero inflation is the new normal: The world can’t evade its debts forever

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Ormerod

Zero inflation is trending. The consumer price index in the UK was at the same level in February as it was a year earlier. The reporting of this figure on the BBC website created some unintended amusement, however. The drop to zero, we were told, was “sharper than many analysts had expected”. And what was this expectation? All of 0.1 per cent, writes Dr Paul Ormerod (UCL Clinical, Educational & Health Psychology) in City AM.

What ISIS achieves with its images of destruction

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Phiroze Vasunia

Last month, the "press office of the province of Nineveh" released a video that showed Daesh (ISIS) militants destroying statues and other historic objects in Mosul's central museum. Anyone who loves art will find it painful to watch the images of destruction, although the images are tame by the standards of ISIS videos, writes Professor Phiroze Vasunia (UCL Greek & Latin) in NDTV.

Banks undermine chip and PIN security because they see profits rise faster than fraud

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Steven Murdoch

The Chip and PIN card payment system has been mandatory in the UK since 2006, but only now is it being slowly introduced in the US. In western Europe more than 96% of card transactions in the last quarter of 2014 used chipped credit or debit cards, compared to just 0.03% in the US, says Dr Steven Murdoch (UCL Computer Science) in The Conversation.

Are we ready for the next volcanic catastrophe?

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Bill McGuire

The largest eruption ever recorded, in Indonesia 200 years ago, wreaked havoc across the world, causing hunger, disease and death for years afterwards. When a volcanic event on that scale happens again – and it will – we should be prepared for serious disruption to our climate and food production, writes Professor Bill McGuire (UCL Earth Sciences) in the Guardian.

Angelina Jolie Pitt’s surgery is just one option for women at risk of cancer

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Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie Pitt has revealed in the New York Times that she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to prevent ovarian cancer. Two years ago she underwent a double mastectomy and breast reconstruction after she was found to carry a mutation, or alteration, on the BRCA1 gene. This was inherited from her mother, who developed ovarian cancer aged 49, says Dr Lucy Side (UCL Women's Cancer) in The Conversation.

Why crime is falling – and it’s nothing to do with the slow death of capitalism

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Ormerod

Economic statistics are the bane of forecasters’ lives. Cynics might say that this is because the data reveal how bad their predictions are. But a big practical problem is that initial estimates of the state of the economy can be revised substantially, writes Dr Paul Ormerod (UCL Clinical, Educational & Health Psychology) in City AM.

The Independent Review of the Implementation of the RCUK Open Access policy

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David Price

Research Councils UK (RCUK) has today released the Report of an independent review body on the implementation of its Open Access policy. It is not a review of Open Access policies and their implementation in the UK. The Report is quite clear about this – it is a review of the impacts of the implementation of the RCUK Policy on Open Access for its funded research outputs, writes Professor David Price (Vice-Provost, Research) in Richard Poynder's blog.

Modern war, ancient casualties

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Eleanor Robson

“Islamic State cowards have destroyed the Assyrian empire” ran one headline in the Guardian on March 16. “‘Ancient statues’ destroyed by ISIS in Mosul were FAKES”, suggested the Daily Mail on the very same day. The truth is somewhere in between, but it will take many months of careful analysis to determine exactly how much of northern Iraq’s cultural heritage has been lost since the invasion in June 2014, writes Professor Eleanor Robson (UCL History) in TLS.

Weighing the evidence for banning skinny catwalk models

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Sarah Jackson

The French government is backing parliamentary plans to ban unhealthily thin models from catwalks. Under two proposed amendments to recent health reforms, anyone employing skinny, undernourished fashion models or “glorifying anorexia” could face fines of up to €75,000 (US$80,000; £54,000; A$104,000) and a six-month prison sentence, writes Dr Sarah Jackson (UCL Epidemiology & Public Health) in The Conversation.

How the energy grid handles the surge after a solar eclipse

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The solar eclipse due to cover much of Europe on March 20 will be the continent’s first for 16 years. Back in 1999, as people stopped staring at the sun and got back on with their day they caused a power surge which still stands as a UK record – greater than anything after a football match or royal wedding, writes Dr Catalina Spataru (UCL Bartlett School Environment, Energy & Resources) in The Conversation.

How not to tackle race Trevor Phillips style

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Three years ago, I attended my first race equality training. A pair of warm-hearted, well-meaning liberals gave us a list of words relating to race, gender, sexuality and class, and asked us to divide them into three categories: acceptable, unacceptable and not sure. Many of us were, understandably, appalled by this superficial and patronising approach to race equality, writes Adam Elliott-Cooper (UCL Philosophy) in The Voice.

What should the UK do about foreign aid?

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Henrietta Moore

The International Development (Official Development Assistance Target) Bill is on the cusp of becoming law. It means that 0.7% of the UK's gross national income (GNI) will be ringfenced for international aid spending. The target will be legally binding on future governments. This makes Britain the first nation in the G7 to honour a commitment agreed by the United Nations as far back as 1970, writes Professor Henrietta Moore (UCL Institute for Global Prosperity) for BBC News.

Tomb of Don Quixote author Cervantes discovered in Madrid

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The quest to identify the bones of Miguel de Cervantes looked bleak in the summer of 2014. “We’re not going to find Cervantes with a nameplate on his coffin,” the project’s forensic director, Francisco Etxeberria, wryly predicted in an interview with Spain’s Agencia EFE in June. But his name on a coffin is not a far cry from what has, in fact, now come to light in Madrid. For researchers have announced that they have found the tomb of Spain’s most famous author, almost 400 years after his death, writes Dr Tyler Fisher (UCL SELCS) in The Conversation.

Beware, a ‘non-communicable’ disease may be socially infectious

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Sarah Jackson

Cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks and stroke, cancers, diabetes and chronic respiratory diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma are among the leading causes of death across the world, says Dr Sarah Jackson (UCL Epidemiology & Public Health) in The Conversation.

Budget 2015: It’s George Osborne’s narrative that counts, not the details

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Ormerod

All eyes will be on George Osborne’s Budget today. An immense amount of media attention and serious commentary will be devoted to it. But do Budgets really matter? How much difference would it make if successive chancellors simply did nothing, apart from indexing various allowances and benefits in line with inflation, writes Dr Paul Ormerod (UCL Clinical, Educational & Health Psychology) in City AM.

Loads? Or many? It depends whether you’re an academic snob

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Jo Wolff

Given my lack of revision, I didn’t do badly at my O-levels, back in 1975. All were passed, though at grades that would make this year’s Ucas candidates blush and reappraise their options. My modest success, such as it was, I owe to an article in Punch magazine on how to puff up your prose. Never write “etc”, said the journalist, for it makes you look as if you’ve forgotten what else to say. Instead use “and so forth”, which hints of a treasury in your head too rich to write down in the available space, writes Professor Jonathan Wolff (UCL Philosophy) in the Guardian.

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