Friday news roundup August 17, 2018
NYU is to offer free tuition for all present and future medical students. Every medical student will qualify regardless of merit or financial need in an attempt by the university to counteract the “overwhelming” debt suffered by the majority of graduating students (the average debt level is $190,000 (£149,000)). Financial worries are driving medical graduates toward lucrative specialities, pushing them away from more general positions. NYU has reportedly been working for more than a decade to accrue the necessary funds to pay for tuition, and hopes to raise a total of $600 million (£472m) to make the scholarships available permanently. Students will still cover their own living expenses and accommodation costs.
The UK is falling behind on life expectancy. The UK’s Office for National Statistics produced two reports on life expectancy in early August which revealed a worrying change regarding the health of the UK. The reports analyzed changes in mortality rates across the UK and internationally, comparing 20 countries from 2001 to 2016. Life expectancy increased for a number of decades before 2011, and then stalled between 2011 and 2016, with peak life expectancy reached in 2014. Researchers from the London School of Hygeine and Tropical Medecine and Oxford University are concerned that the country is experiencing a sustained, consistent reversal of previous health improvements, linked to cuts to health and social care as a result of the austerity policies followed by the Conservative government since 2010.
Australia’s population clock hit 25 million. The projections made by the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ population clock are based on estimates of the resident population at the end of 2017. It assumes an overall population increase of one person every one minute and 23 seconds, after taking account of births, deaths, and net migration. It took 23 years for Australia’s population to rise from 15 million to 20 million, but the latest 5 million have been added in just 14 years. In 2017, 62% of Australia’s overall population increase of 388,000 was due to net overseas migration while 38% was due to natural increase (births minus deaths). On current trends, Australia’s population is set to reach 26 million by late 2020 or early 2021, and top 30 million by 2030.
Wildfires are exascerbating pollution levels in the US’s Pacific Northwest. The nearly four million people in the Seattle metropolitan area experienced 21 days in 2016 with elevated levels of the smallest particulate matter, which comes from sources like wildfire smoke and car exhaust, according to a study published by advocate groups Environment America Research & Policy Center and the Frontier Group. Particulate pollution increases the risk of premature death, asthma attacks, and other adverse health impacts. Globally, 2017 was the third-hottest year on record, behind 2016 and 2015. Rising temperatures, changed wind patterns, and droughts that foster wildfires of increasing intensity and frequency contribute to the problem. Governor of Washington, Jay Inslee, has asked voters to approve an initiative that would levy fees on oil refineries and other businesses that contribute to carbon pollution.