University Neural Computing Group are working on a computerised mechanic that would take the initiative in adjusting ignition timing and cutting harmful emissions from car engines.

The "mechanic" is one application of the development of computer programmes that, like brains, can learn to solve complex problems.

Fine Art Students from the Canterbury campus of the Kent institute of Art and Design have created sculptures as part of an environmental art programme aimed at increasing awareness and enjoyment of art in the landscape.

The Design and Technology degree show at Loughborough University of Technology brought 170 ingenious ideas to a waiting world, including: waterless loos, baby carriers for wheelchair users, a portable shower and an infra-red tent alarm. Not forgetting the first-ever slide guitar that gives you the choice of playing it standing up or sitting down. Several of the ideas attracted the interest of major companies such as British Rail, Hitachi, Biffa and Blick.

Johanna Simpson, a final-year student doing the BA in Consumer and Management Studies at Glasgow Caledonian University, won pounds 30 at the 1995 Caledonian Food Fair for inventing Chilli Devils, a hot snack made from chili peppers stuffed with spicy mince and coated in potato.

Brighton University has installed a new software system that gives students easy access to information about, among other things, benefit and grant regulations, financial services, and details about educational trust funds. It's called the Intelligent System for the Purpose of Information Retrieval for Education - InSpire for short.

The Virtual Open Day is upon us. No more of those long drives in coaches - you will soon be able to experience Nottingham Trent University wherever you like, at the touch of a button. Aimed mainly at 17- and 18 year-olds, it features a dynamic combination of text, video, sound and images, and will be distributed to schools and colleges on CD-Rom and also made available on the Internet. lt will include animated characters who guide potential applicants on a tour of the university's facilities, plus student accommodation and the city of Nottingham.

Angela Edmonds, who graduated from the University of Hertfordshire in 1991 with a degree in fine art, recently exhibited her sculptures at the Knapp Gallery, Regents Park, London. They explore primal responses rooted in the body, using fruit as metaphors for physical and emotional states - one striking example being an orange implanted with human teeth.

Students at many universities now have the opportunity to act as student tutors in local primary and secondary schools. Some help special needs pupils, acting as helpers and advisers. Others give one-to-one advice to pupils during practical classes or project sessions. Everyone appears to benefit, with the teachers getting extra support in the classroom, the pupils getting extra attention and an opportunity to meet someone who is at university, and the students a chance to practise their skills and see schools from a new perspective.

A final-year BA (Hons) graphic design student, Spencer Britton, has won a pounds 400 prize by designing the cover of the Prospectus for the University of Teesside. With a print run of 85,000 and requests for the prospectus coming from the four corners of the world, it's a good way of getting noticed. Jonathan Cudworth, a final-year industrial design student at the same university, won a Royal Society award for his design of a doctor's bag for the 21st century.

Two-way sound and vision communication via the lnternet is being used to teach surgery at six universities simultaneously. New technology enables Freddie Hambie, a senior lecturer in urology, to give a lecture in front of his own students at the University of Newcastle, while also being seen and heard by students at the universities of Bristol, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Manchester and University College, London. The same technology is being used to enable hundreds of students to "visit" operating theatres and watch surgery taking place.

The University of Cardiff has a new scheme designed to encourage top- class athletes of the future to reach the peak of attainment without neglecting their studies. It's a sports bursary award scheme that provides an award of pounds 500 per year for three years to pay for essential training, equipment and travel expenses. The scheme is open to all prospective students and applicants are required to meet normal academic standards. They become eligible to apply for bursaries after they have received an offer of a place via UCAS. Ten bursaries will be available from September 1995 and it is likely that certain sports will be targeted each year to reinforce current strengths.

Cheltenham and Gloucester College students won the Southern and Western regional award for the best Student Enterprise project with their environmentally friendly Green Guide, packed with eco-advice and information, including tips on recycling and pollution. The pounds 200 prize will allow further issues to be produced.

The Ugly Theatre Group, made up of drama and theatre students from the University of Glamorgan won the coveted Best Drama Company award at this year's Sunday Times National Students' Drama Festival. Almost 100 university and college drama groups entered and 15 competed in the final. Ugly's winning production was Let's Play a Game Called Sorry, a powerful play by fellow student Lynn Jefferson, exploring domestic violence. The judges were also impressed by Emily McKenzie's portrayal of a child trapped in domestic warfare and she received a special acting commendation, the only person to do so.

Dimitros Katsaris, who is studying composite materials engineering at the University of Plymouth, has designed and hand-built a revolutionary lightweight carbon fibre framed bike, which was raced by the Greek and Italian national teams in the 1995 Cycling World Cup.

Middlesex University drama and theatre studies student Jane Smith was in Wormwood Scrubs last term - but only in the line of duty. Jane helped lifers and shorter-term prisoners to put on a play.

The Department of Engineering at the University of Aberdeen has a new sponsorship arrangement with Baker Oil Tools Ltd, one of the largest design and manufacturing companies involved in the oil and gas industry. The deal is that they will sponsor two third-year students a year, give final- year prizes and offer jobs during vacations.

Doing "A" levels? Do you know about Core Skills? Over 80 Universities are now acknowledging the added value of Core Skills developed through the Youth Award Scheme for entry purposes. And many Universities are recognising GNVQS. You'll see reference to the Youth Award Scheme and GNVQs in the current UCAS Autumn 96 entry guidance to applicants. This suggests that you give details of Core Skill attainment in your personal statement (Note 62K refers).

More and more schools, sixth forms and further education colleges are running the Youth Award Scheme alongside GNVQS. These programmes of learning will give you core skill assessment. The Youth Award Scheme for example provides a focus on developing self assessment and study skills which Universities increasingly want to see in applicants. Check with your schools to see whether they offer either of these schemes which can give you further national certification to bolt on to your 'A ' levels


Did you know that UCAS regularly produces a list of changes to its Handbook? it sends copies of this list to schools, colleges and careers offices so make sure that you ask careers staff for the most

up-to-date version. The Handbook amendment list (OK, so it's not a snappy title!) contains details about courses which are new or withdrawn since the UCAS Handbook was published. If you are applying for higher education you will need to check this information. It may make all the difference to your application.