Fears of a price war are mounting following the freeing of universities to set their own overseas student fees from next year. And there are predictions that the ending of the informal cartel using University Grants Committee-recommended fees as an absolute minimum (only Queen's University Belfast and the University of Ulster ever charge much below the minimum for some courses) could lead to declining academic standards.
Most universities are looking into giving staff and students access to computing power through many small machines rather than one big one, according to the Computer Board for Universities and Research Councils. The board, which spends just under £40 million a year on behalf of the Department of Education and Science, records in its latest triennial report "a striking tendency in most university computing strategies towards a distributed solution rather than the provision of a single large central computer". This is partly because of smaller, powerful machines coming on to the market, and also because demand is now also widely distributed across campus - in libraries as well as laboratories, and for teaching as well as research.