Leadership can be an inherited trait!

January 20th, 2013

The study, published online in Leadership Quarterly, is the first to identify a specific DNA sequence associated with the tendency for individuals to occupy a leadership position. Using a large twin sample, the international research team, which included academics from Harvard, NYU, and the University of California, estimate that a quarter of the observed variation in leadership behaviour between individuals can be explained by genes passed down from their parents.



To find the genotype, Dr De Neve and his colleagues analysed data from two large-scale samples in the United States, available through the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health) and the Framingham Heart Study.

They compared genetic samples of approximately 4,000 individuals with information about jobs and relationships, finding that in both surveys there was a significant association between rs4950 and leadership. Leadership behaviour was measured by determining whether or not individuals occupy supervisory roles in the workplace.

The team found that although acquiring a leadership position mostly depends on developing skills, inheriting the leadership trait can also play an important role.

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Number of first-class degrees has tripled since late 90s!

January 11th, 2013

Record numbers of students were awarded first-class honours degrees last summer amid fresh fears that the traditional university classification system is failing to properly mark out the brightest graduates.

Official figures show that 61,600 students – more than one-in-six – left university in 2012 with the best possible grade.


The number of first-class degrees soared by 16 per cent in just 12 months and has now tripled in 13 years, it was revealed.

At the same time, a record two-thirds of students gained at least a 2:1 degree, which is considered the minimum threshold for applications to most graduate jobs.

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Afrikaans: Easiest Foreign Language!

January 8th, 2013

Like English, Afrikaans is in the West Germanic language family. Unlike English, its structure won’t make your head spin. A great feature of Afrikaans, especially for grammar-phobes, is its logical and non-inflective structure. Unlike English, there is no verb conjugation (swim, swam, swum). Unlike Romance languages, there is no gender (un homme, une femme in French).


Another feature of Afrikaans is its vocabulary, which shares many Germanic-derived root words that are familiar to English speakers. Vocabulary-building is as easy as pointing to an object and asking, “Wat is dit in Afrikaans?”

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Gifted UK graduates are prevented from developing vital skills!

January 7th, 2013

The latest figures show that there were over 8,000 fewer UK students taking up taught postgraduate courses in 2010-11 than the year before, a 4.3% contraction. This year’s figures, due out on Thursday, are expected to be worse still.

But it is in a year and a half that the true postgraduate crisis looms, senior academics say. Then it will be the turn of the students loaded with debts from the new system to decide whether they can afford to do more studying.

Students from wealthy backgrounds may be able to afford to study the subjects they need to grab the best jobs and the biggest salaries. Foreign students, particularly from China and Brazil, are flocking to the UK for postgraduate courses – often supported by their governments, who spy a chance to grab a top-class education without establishing their own expensive institutions. But for the majority of home UK students, this world-class education may be out of reach.

Study Abroad

Now, 11 leaders of universities in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have condemned the existence of a “policy vacuum” where there should be a funding model for would-be postgraduate students, as Professor Simon Gaskell, the vice chancellor of Queen Mary, University of London, puts it.

The absence of such a scheme for “an advanced economy that needs high level technical skills and workforce flexibility” is a “catastrophe”, according to Professor Don Nutbeam of Southampton University, or, in the words of Professor Jules Pretty, deputy vice-chancellor at Essex university, a “ticking timebomb”.

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Students: could you make a film?

January 4th, 2013

Make a 60-second video about a subject you love and you could win £9,000 towards your education.

Lights, camera, action – entries for the Very Short Film competition are now open.

Produce a 60-second film on a subject of your choice and you could win £9,000 towards your education, courtesy of Guardian Students and the Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press (OUP).

Student making film on mobile phone
You can base the film on any subject – it might be a personal interest or something that relates to your study. But just like the books in the Very Short Introduction series, you’ll need to show that you can convey complex ideas in a short amount of time.

Successful entrants will be on top of their subject, giving an interesting angle, not just a set of facts – and they’ll present them with verve and passion.

Whether it’s eighteenth-century poetry or elephant conservation, we want to see that you can fire up an audience’s curiosity about your subject, and that you’re creative. The best submissions will be featured on the Guardian website this autumn.

The deadline for entries is 31 December 2012, after this we’ll draw up a longlist of the best videos to open up to a public vote. A panel of media, journalism and publishing experts will then select a winner from the four most popular clips.

The winner will receive a cash prize of £9,000 to pay towards their university fees and/or student living costs, while three runners-up will get £250s worth of OUP books.

The competition is open to any UK student who is enrolled on a full-time, fee-paying higher or further education course (or equivalent in Scotland), and to any UK school student who is applying for a place on a fee-paying higher or further education course in autumn 2013.


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University applications fall: ‘some talented young people choose not to go’

January 4th, 2013

Figures show that demand for higher education is down by 6.3 per cent amid a continuing backlash over fees of up to £9,000-a-year. It emerged that 265,730 British students had applied for university places by mid-December – the lowest number since the data was first collated in 2008/9.

LSE graduation day

The figures – published by the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service – relate to courses starting in autumn this year and are likely to reignite the debate over higher fees.

Overall, numbers are down by more than 41,000 – 13 per cent – compared with two years ago before the introduction of the new student finance regime.

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English Idioms: Shopping

February 17th, 2011

Idiom: Shop around
If you shop around, you visit a number of shops selling similar articles in order to compare the prices.
“You can usually save money by shopping around.”

Idiom: Shop till you drop
Meaning: If you shop till you drop, you go shopping for a very long time, until you’re exhausted.
“If  you go to London with Julie you’ll shop till you drop, so take comfortable shoes!”

Idiom: A shopping spree
Meaning: If you go on a shopping spree, you enjoy a lively outing, usually with much spending of money.
“Julie enjoys going on a shopping spree during the sales.”

Idiom: Shopping therapy
Meaning: This term refers to the idea that buying things can make you feel better.
“A little shopping therapy can usually cheer up bored teenagers.”

Idiom: Talk shop
Meaning: If you talk shop, you talk about your work or business in a social situation with someone you work with, and make the conversation boring for the others present.
“I never go out with my colleagues because we inevitably end up talking shop.”

Idiom: Window shopping
Meaning: If you do some window shopping, you look at things in shop windows, without actually purchasing anything.
“I can’t buy anything until I get paid, so I’m just window shopping.”

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English Idioms: Communication

February 16th, 2011

Idiom: Blow out of proportion
Meaning: If you exaggerate the importance of something, you blow it out of proportion.
“The importance of the event was blown out of proportion by the media.”

Idiom: Chinese whispers
This term refers to a process by which a message or piece of information (especially gossip, rumors or scandalous news) is passed on from one person to another, and changes along the way,  so that the final version is often very different from the original.Idiom: Drop somebody a line
Meaning: If you drop someone a line, you write a letter to them.
“I always drop her a line to wish her a Merry Christmas.”

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World’s Best Universities in Arts and Humanities

February 16th, 2011

World’s Best Universities rankings, based on the QS World University Rankings for arts and humanities in 2010.

1)    University of Oxford, United Kingdom
2)    University of Cambridge, United Kingdom
3)    Harvard University, United States
4)    University of California, Berkeley (UCB), United States
5)    Yale University, United States
6)    Princeton University, United States
7)    University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), United States
8)    Stanford University, United States
9)    University of Chicago, United States
10)    Columbia University, United States
11)    University of Toronto, Canada
12)    UCL (University College London), United Kingdom
13)    Université Paris Sorbonne, Paris, France
14)    University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom
15)    New York University (NYU), United States
16)    Cornell University, United States
17)    , Australian National University (ANU), Australia
18)    University of Michigan, United States
19)    University of Sydney, Australia
20)    The University of Tokyo, Japan
21)    University of Melbourne, Australia
22)    Humboldt-Universitätzu Berlin, Germany
23)    National University of Singapore (NUS), Singapore
24)    Peking University, China
25)    Freie Universität Berlin, Germany
26)    King’s College London (KCL), United Kingdom
27)    Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), United States
28)    McGill University, Canada
29)    University of Amsterdam, Netherlands
30)    University of Pennsylvania (UPenn), United States
31)    University of British Columbia (UBC), Canada
32)    Université Paris 1, Pantheon-Sorbonne, France
33)    London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), United Kingdom
34)    Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München (LMU), Germany
35)    University of , Hong Kong (HKU), Hong Kong
36)    Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg, Germany
37)    Brown University, United States
38)    Duke University, United States
39)    Leiden University, Netherlands
40)    Kyoto University, Japan
41)    École Normale Supérieure de Paris (ENS Paris), France
42)    University of Warwick, United Kingdom
43)    Monash University, Australia
44)    University of Vienna, Austria
45)    University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin), United States
46)    Università di Bologna, Italy
47)    Universität Freiburg, Germany
48)    University of Manchester, United Kingdom
49)    University of Leeds, United Kingdom
50)    SOAS – School of Oriental and African Studies, United Kingdom
51)    University of Auckland, New Zealand
52)    Trinity College Dublin, Ireland
53)    University of Helsinki, Finland
54)    Seoul National University (SNU), South Korea
55)    University of St Andrews, United Kingdom
56)    University of Wisconsin-Madison, United States
57)    University of Bristol, United Kingdom
58)    Tsinghua University, China
59)    National Taiwan University (NTU), Taiwan
60)    Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), Hong Kong
61)    Uppsala University, Sweden
62)    University of Copenhagen, Denmark
63)    Stockholm University, Sweden
64)    Johns Hopkins University, United States
65)    Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium
66)    Fudan University, China
67)    Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen, Germany
68)    University of Birmingham, United Kingdom
69)    University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), United States
70)    Utrecht University, Netherlands
71)    University of California, San Diego (UCSD), United States
72)    University of Zurich, Switzerland
73)    Universität de Barcelona, Spain
74)    Sapienza Università di Roma, Italy
75)    University of York, United Kingdom
76)    Waseda University, Japan
77)    Yonsei University, South Korea
78)    University of New South Wales (UNSW), Australia
79)    Durham University, United Kingdom
80)    Chulalongkorn University, Thailand
81)    Goldsmiths, University of London, United Kingdom
82)    Korea University, South Korea
83)    Boston University, United States
84)    Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Spain
85)    University of Glasgow, United Kingdom
86)    Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick, United States
87)    University of Oslo, Norway
88)    Indiana University Bloomington, United States
89)    University of Geneva, Switzerland
90)    University College Dublin (UCD), Ireland
91)    Macquarie University, Australia
92)    Lund University, Sweden
93)    Birkbeck College, University of London, United Kingdom
94)    Northwestern University, United States
95)    Universität Autónoma de Barcelona, Spain
96)    Queen Mary, University of London (QMUL), United Kingdom
97)    University of Queensland (UQ), Australia
98)    Lomonosov Moscow State University, Russia
99)    University of Sheffield, United Kingdom
100)    University of Pittsburgh, United States

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Sample Topics of Test of Written English (TWE) for TOEFL

January 7th, 2011

Below are some sample topics for Test of Written English (TWE):

1.    People attend college or university for many different reasons (for example, new experiences, career preparation, increased knowledge). Why do you think people attend college or university? Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

2.    Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? Parents are the best teachers. Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

3.    Nowadays, food has become easier to prepare. Has this change improved the way people live? Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

4.    It has been said, “Not everything that is learned is contained in books.” Compare and contrast knowledge gained from experience with knowledge gained from books. In your opinion, which source is more important? Why?

5.    A company has announced that it wishes to build a large factory near your community. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of this new influence on your community. Do you support or oppose the factory? Explain your position.

6.    If you could change one important thing about your hometown, what would you change? Use reasons and specific examples to support your answer.

7.    How do movies or television influence people’s behavior? Use reasons and specific examples to support your answer.

8.    Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? Television has destroyed communication among friends and family. Use specific reasons and examples to support your opinion.

9.    Some people prefer to live in a small town. Others prefer to live in a big city. Which place would you prefer to live in? Use specific reasons and details to support your answer.

10.    “When people succeed, it is because of hard work. Luck has nothing to do with success.” Do you agree or disagree with the quotation above? Use specific reasons and examples to explain your position.

11.    Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? Universities should give the same amount of money to their students’ sports activities as they give to their university libraries. Use specific reasons and examples to support your opinion.

12.    Many people visit museums when they travel to new places. Why do you think people visit museums? Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

13.    Some people prefer to eat at food stands or restaurants. Other people prefer to prepare and eat food at home. Which do you prefer? Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

14.    Some people believe that university students should be required to attend classes. Others believe that going to classes should be optional for students. Which point of view do you agree with? Use specific reasons and details to explain your answer.

15.    Neighbors are the people who live near us. In your opinion, what are the qualities of a good neighbor? Use specific details and examples in your answer.

16.    It has recently been announced that a new restaurant may be built in your neighborhood. Do you support or oppose this plan? Why? Use specific reasons and details to support your answer.

17.    Some people think that they can learn better by themselves than with a teacher. Others think that it is always better to have a teacher. Which do you prefer? Use specific reasons to develop your essay.

18.    What are some important qualities of a good supervisor (boss)? Use specific details and examples to explain why these qualities are important.

19.    Should governments spend more money on improving roads and highways, or should governments spend more money on improving public transportation (buses, trains, subways)? Why? Use specific reasons and details to develop your essay.

20.    It is better for children to grow up in the countryside than in a big city. Do you agree or disagree? Use specific reasons and examples to develop your essay.

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