News in brief

October 2, 2008


Funding balance steady next year

The proportion of public funding that universities receive for teaching different subjects will not change next academic year, the Higher Education Funding Council for England (Hefce) has announced. Universities have been submitting data to Hefce on the cost of teaching, which will be used to inform a review of the weightings used to allocate money for different subjects. However, the funding council has decided not to change the weightings for 2009-10. In a letter to university heads, David Eastwood, Hefce's chief executive, said: "We are aware that 2009-10 is likely to be a challenging year for some institutions ... We do not wish to create unnecessary volatility."

Higher Education Statistics Agency

Gender gap in teaching expands

A gender gap in students gaining teaching qualifications is widening, latest figures indicate. According to a report released by the Higher Education Statistics Agency, the number of female students qualifying in this field in the UK between 2005-06 and 2006-07 rose by 2 per cent, from 23,865 to 24,335. The number of male qualifiers, already significantly smaller, fell by almost 6 per cent, from 8,065 to 7,610, accounting for less than a quarter of the total.

Adult education

Speaking up for lifelong learning

A campaign was launched this week to defend adult education. In response to the loss of 1.5 million adult education places in the past two years, the Campaigning Alliance for Lifelong Learning has been established jointly by five founding partners: the National Union of Students, the University and College Union, the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education, Unison and the Workers' Educational Association.


Employer-led qualifications

Little interest in bespoke degrees

Despite a flurry of media comment about the rise of "McDegrees" UK employers are showing little interest in awarding their own qualifications, a NCFE conference has heard. So far, just two trade associations and four employers - including Network Rail and the British airline Flybe - have become accredited awarding bodies, according to the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS). Speaking at the conference, John Landeryou, chair of the vocational qualifications reform programme at DIUS, said that it was unlikely that many more employers would want to take up the opportunity. "I'm not sure that a vast number of employers and providers will want to do this by themselves. You do need a specific reason to do this. This is not about duplicating qualifications in a sector, it's about meeting business need," said Mr Landeryou.


In a news item ("Royal Society is considering casting out God", 25 September), we referred to the "conservative Christian" Templeton Foundation. The foundation says that it does not "think of itself as conservative" and that it is "broadly theistic in its approach to religious questions, and funds research related to all the world's major religious traditions".

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