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‘Ruthlessly systematic’ research achieves qubit communication 200 times faster than ever before

An Australian research team led by the renowned quantum physicist Prof Michelle Simmons has announced a major breakthrough in quantum computing, which researchers hope could lead to much greater computing power within a decade.

Simmons, a former Australian of the Year, and her team at the University of New South Wales announced in a paper published in Nature journal on Thursday that they have been able to achieve the first two-qubit gate between atom qubits in silicon, allowing them to communicate with each other at a 200 times faster rate than previously achieved at 0.8 nanoseconds.

Related: Australian of the year named as quantum physicist Michelle Yvonne Simmons

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Historian of modern China, cut off from his roots, who rued the rise of the military and the Communist conquest

The early life of the historian Jerome Ch’en, who has died aged 99, ran in parallel with the upheavals in modern China that he went on to document. Once dynastic rule collapsed after 1911, the warlord period (1916-28) was followed by the Japanese invasion (1931-45) and the civil war.

By the end of the civil war, in 1949, the Communist party was triumphant and Jerome was studying in London. He stayed abroad, and spent the rest of his life working out, as a historian, how it was that the decades he had lived in China had led to the Communist conquest. He pioneered the study of the Republic of China (1911-49), especially of the rise of the military and later of the Communists.

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A national community arts project, where poems are matched to precise locations, is reinventing a 17th-century classic for the digital age

Pinned just west of Marsden, Yorkshire on a 17th-century map of the UK, is a poem by the UK’s new poet laureate, Simon Armitage. “The sky has delivered / its blank missive. / The moor in coma.” Move west, to the Isle of Man, and the poet is a little less well known – she’s dubbed herself Mrs Yorkshire the Baking Bard – but the sense of place is just as strong (and the rhymes are better, too): “I climbed Maughold Head as the morning sun rose / And the darkness surrendered to light / Where the buttery bloom of the golden gorse grows / And adventurous seabirds take flight.”

The poems – two of almost 2,000, and growing – are part of the Places of Poetry project, a community arts initiative where members of the public are invited to write poems and “pin” them on a digital map to the locations in England and Wales that inspired them. Inspired by Michael Drayton’s 17th-century poem Poly-Olbion, a 15,000-word poem on the topography of England and Wales, the project is being run by poet Paul Farley and Andrew McRae from the University of Exeter.

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Survey finds more than four in five parents plan to contribute to living expenses

Parents say they are contributing £360 each month to support their children at university, with some forced to dip into their savings or take on second jobs to help with rent and food costs, according to a new report by Which?

Related: How much should parents pay for university?

Related: University league tables 2020

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Academic publisher hopes to convince students to pay to access online materials

The era of students using their loans to buy expensive textbooks upfront could be coming to an end, after the academic publisher Pearson announced a shift towards a Netflix-style subscription-based model.

The British company has for years profited from the demand for specialist textbooks at US universities, which students can be required to purchase despite them sometimes costing hundreds of dollars.

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This year’s People and Planet league table could be the last unless the Office for Students has a change of heart

While young people call for urgent action on the climate emergency, universities are lagging behind, with two-thirds likely to fail their 2020 targets for the reduction of carbon emissions. And academic conferences are partly to blame.

Air travel is estimated to be responsible for more than 2% of global human-induced emissions, and lecturers’ flights could be adding significantly to the carbon footprint of many universities, according to transport data provided voluntarily by 67 institutions.

Related: New university tops green table as Oxbridge lags behind

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Only 16% of university heads were privately educated, in contrast to judges and elite civil servants. Why the difference?

Steve Smith’s parents were devastated to be told at school parents’ evening that the best their working‑class son could hope for was a job sweeping floors in the local shoe factory. He is now vice-chancellor of the University of Exeter, part of the elite Russell Group.

Nick Petford left school at 16 and worked in a tool-packing factory before training to install air-conditioning. He is now vice-chancellor of the University of Northampton.

Related: Britain’s top jobs still in hands of private school elite, study finds

Related: The lawyer who wants more academics to ‘come out’ as working class

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A new report warns that few students even know what a degree apprenticeship is, but it was a lifeline for me

When I first heard about apprenticeships, I thought they were only offered at college level, or in more practical jobs. But then my younger brother Josh started looking into a degree apprenticeship in digital and technology solutions to launch a career in cyber security. I was working in a law firm at the time, but I had a flick through of his degree apprenticeships brochure anyway. I saw a course in management and was instantly intrigued.

I had worried that, having dyslexia, I might potentially have a glass roof over the top of me, as I learn and work in a different way than most people. When I was at school I don’t think they understood dyslexia truly, and instead of finding ways to help me, they would just overlook me or point in the direction of something more “practical” in which I would usually excel. This put me off studying at university, but a degree apprenticeship means that I can access learning in a more practical way.

Related: Master's apprenticeships: elevating managers to the next level

Related: Best of both: how degree-level apprenticeships blend work and study

Vida Nicholls is studying a chartered manager degree apprenticeship at Anglia Ruskin University

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Survey suggests that students feel they lack support from their universities in managing their finances

Students are suffering high levels of financial stress as they struggle to support themselves during term time following a real terms decline in the value of the maintenance loan and the rising cost of rent.

A quarter of students find managing their money stressful, according to a survey of 3,604 students commissioned by NatWest. Although most students receive a means-tested maintenance loan from the government to cover their living costs, nearly half of respondents (43%) said they had run out of money by the end of the semester, while one in three (32%) used their overdraft to cover their rent and household bills.

Related: How much should parents pay for university?

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Neil Sherlock recalls a sense of entitlement from his rival in race to become society president

Boris Johnson seemed convinced his charm alone would be enough to secure him the prize, but ultimately he was thwarted by a rival who sought to portray him as a charlatan – only to eventually triumph by changing his political colours completely.

This is not the story of the Conservative leadership candidate’s recent political career, his humbling at the hands of Michael Gove in 2016, or his sudden devotion to the Brexit cause – but of his first forays into student politics about 35 years ago, according to the man who beat him.

The real Boris Johnson

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