News in brief - 22 August 2013

August 22, 2013

Accept in haste, repent at leisure?

Students who apply to university after they receive their A-level results are almost twice as likely to be dissatisfied with their course, a survey says. According to a poll by the consumer group Which?, 13 per cent of clearing students were not satisfied with their university compared with 6 per cent of students who applied through the main applications process. Ten per cent said they were unhappy with their choice of course compared with 6 per cent of other students, according to the results of a survey of 390 first-year students. Just over a third (37 per cent) said they felt pressured into taking the first offer they received, while 45 per cent said they felt rushed into making a decision after receiving their exam results. However, Ucas said that 94 per cent of those placed through clearing last year were content with their choices.

Pearson College
Making progress by degrees

Pearson College, owned by the education giant Pearson, is to offer business degrees validated by Ashridge Business School. The arrangement is in addition to a partnership with Royal Holloway, University of London, which already validates business and enterprise degrees at the college. Pearson had hoped to win its own degree-awarding powers, but the coalition government last year shelved the higher education bill that would have made it legally possible. The “suite of innovative undergraduate programmes” validated by Ashridge will be on offer from 2014. Pearson College opened its doors to a “small cohort” of “pioneers” last September, but will step up recruitment this year.

FutureLearn: see you in September

Courses on the UK’s first massive open online course platform FutureLearn will be unveiled next month. Details of the first Moocs are thin on the ground, but FutureLearn has confirmed that topics will include literature, history, social sciences, computing and IT and physical science, and will be designed to work on mobile devices. Simon Nelson, chief executive of FutureLearn, said: “Our partners have developed a wonderful range of high-quality courses to launch the service, and I have no doubt that our learners will find the content compelling.” There will be a launch event in mid-September, when full details of the platform’s first Moocs will be announced. Learners will then be able to register for a selection of the courses, the first of which will start in October, although some course numbers will initially be limited while final “open beta” testing is completed.

Child support
Dads’ after-school help sought

More divorced mothers are seeking legal advice about the extension of support payments by ex-husbands while children are at university, according to a family law firm. Naomi Rainey, an associate at Pannone Solicitors, said that staff had seen a rise in the number of enquiries about maintenance payments to help support children in higher education since tuition fees rose to £9,000 last year. Many women did not realise that they could apply for maintenance beyond the end of a child’s secondary education, Ms Rainey said. “Many assume that it automatically comes to an end when a child finishes secondary school. That is not necessarily the case.” She said that about a third of family law cases at Pannone relate to claims involving children either at or approaching the age when they might become undergraduates.

Follow Times Higher Education on Twitter

A call to acknowledge the work of the computer programmers who produce software to facilitate research received a lot of support online. @ethanwhite said: “I love the idea of ‘research software development teams’ that take proposals and award support to interesting science,” referring to a University College London model mentioned in the article. @Secti0n9, on the other hand, had some different advice for software engineers who felt overlooked by their university. “Quit academia ‘officially’ and work freelance for the universities!” he suggested.

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