For the record

December 14, 2001

Minister demands more for money
Lifelong learning and higher education minister Margaret Hodge has set new challenges for the Learning and Skills Council and post-16 institutions, alongside a £500 million funding boost.

The LSC will be expected to help build new routes into higher education, raise standards in post-16 education and training, and cut red tape for further education colleges, Ms Hodge told delegates at the LSC's annual conference in London this week.

Nursing research gets a £4.3 million boost
Cliff Bailey, the director of the research and development workforce programme for the Department of Health, announced £4.3 million of new money for doctoral and postdoctoral awards for nursing and other health professions at a UK Council for Graduate Education Conference this week. Last week, a report on nursing research called for the establishment of a seven-year development fund. The DoH and the Higher Education Funding Council for England are yet to make an announcement on the fund, but the DoH has acted in the meantime to support health research.

Bill Gates in corporate university discussion
Corporate universities could provide the model for the NHS University. Microsoft chairman Bill Gates and health secretary Alan Milburn met last week to discuss collaboration on the project. Representatives of both sides are due to meet in the next few weeks. Another meeting between Mr Gates and Mr Milburn is planned for February.

£703m injection for Scots higher education
Higher education in Scotland is to receive £703 million from the Scottish Executive over the coming year, lifelong learning minister Wendy Alexander has announced.
In her annual guidance letter to the Scottish Higher Education Funding Council, she said that priority areas would be improving access, the commercialisation of research and modernising the sector. She is also keen to strengthen Scotland's track record in attracting non-Scottish students.

Funding per student declines
Public funding per student will be nearly 7 per cent lower in 2003-04 than it was in the year Labour came to power, according to figures published by the Liberal Democrats this week. Figures from the House of Commons library strip out fee contributions by students and their parents from 1997-98 until 2003-04.

Equality service ready to serve universities
Equality issues rose to the top of the higher education agenda this week as the new Equality Challenge Unit finalised its mission and work programme.

The unit, funded by higher education through the funding councils, is offering institutions an Equality Advisory Service. It also aims to bring institutions and trades unions together through a framework for partnership. It will publish guidelines and organise conferences and workshops.

Details: www.ecu.ac.uk

Pregnant student loses discrimination appeal
A student who was refused a jobseeker's allowance when she took time off university after falling pregnant has failed in a sex discrimination test case.

Cardiff University student Faustina Walter, 26, had to choose between abandoning her studies, which were two-thirds complete, or losing her right to benefits. She was left with no source of income by government rules that ban full-time students from receiving benefits. She had been given a year off university.

Three Appeal Court judges agreed that her situation was "unfortunate", and that benefit regulations were "capable of causing hardship" to students in her position. But they rejected claims that she had been directly discriminated against on grounds of her sex.

Number of trainee places hits new high
The Teacher Training Agency is to allocate an extra 1,900 teacher training places next year, taking the total to 32,000, the highest in a decade.
The extra numbers have been allocated to 125 top-rated courses in universities, colleges and schools, with Edge Hill and St Martins colleges receiving the biggest increases. The TTA said the proportion of primary trainees in high-quality training would rise as a result from 62 per cent to 73 per cent, and in secondary from 85 per cent to 88 per cent. ICT, English and design and technology will get a greater proportion of the extra places.

Call for action to ease surgeon shortfall
In all nine surgical specialities there is a shortfall of 1,454 surgeons between the consultant numbers required by 2009 and the numbers due to finish training, concludes a report from the Royal College of Surgeons out this week. The British Medical Association has called on the government to unblock the bottleneck in training places for surgery and other specialities.

Art institute to become London college
The Courtauld Institute of Art is to become a free-standing college of London University. The institute had considered merging with one of the larger London colleges but a meeting of the Council of London University has resolved that the Courtauld should become a separately incorporated body, to be admitted in August 2002.

Tribunal to decide on copyright dispute
The Copyright Tribunal was yesterday due to announce its decision on the dispute between Universities UK and the Copyright Licensing Agency.

The two sides failed to agree terms and conditions for future licensing of works photocopied in universities. In July 2000, UUK (at the time the CVCP) called for a tribunal to settle the case. The dispute is over the level of copyright fees and the licensing of course packs and artistic works.

Basic skills centre to be set up to help adults
A National Research and Development Centre for Basic Skills is to be set up to back the government's aim to improve the basic skill levels of adults.

The centre will be led by the Institute of Education and supported by the universities of Lancaster, Nottingham and Sheffield.

Helpline for would-be teachers is buzzing
A new helpline to advise people hoping to teach in further education colleges has been inundated with calls. The helpline was set up by the Further Education National Training Organisation.

Why did you tangle the damn lights... dearest?
Decorating the Christmas tree and lighting candles can help make a couple's marriage stronger, according to a new study. Husbands and wives were more satisfied with their marriages when they found meaning in shared religious holiday rituals.

Psychologists Barbara Fiese and Thomas Tomcho, from Syracuse University, New York, interviewed 120 couples who had been married for an average of nine years and had at least one pre-school child. Their marital satisfaction was assessed with a 32-item questionnaire that asked questions such as: "How often do you laugh together?"

The influence of shared religious rituals on marital satisfaction was related to the meaning it held for the couples concerned, the researchers found.

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