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UK universities to launch alternative to Google

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A new internet search engine rivalling Google is to be launched at the end of January by The University of Manchester's national data centre Mimas. The free service will add thousands of documents to the 'Intute' service, which already allows academics, teachers, researchers and students to search for information relating specifically to their subject area.

Part of a £1.5 million per year collaboration between seven UK universities and partners, the launch includes enlisting a team of full-time specialists to scour the internet, backed by an army of PhD students and a range of organisations, including the Wellcome Trust.

Intute also provides free internet tutorials in a 'virtual training suite' to help students learn how to get the best from the web.

According to executive director Caroline Williams, Intute is more discriminating than Google, which uses robots to automatically index web pages. She said: ‘Google isn't discriminating about the material it chooses - and with no systematic quality control processes it is very difficult for people to explore and discover trusted information.’

The launch follows high profile criticism by a senior academic at Brighton University, who argued that students need to be taught to challenge the facts taken from Google or Wikipedia.