News in brief

January 22, 2009

Undergraduate admissions

Ucas records 10 per cent growth

The number of full-time students accepted on to undergraduate courses is up 10 per cent. Final figures from the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service show that a total of 456,6 students were accepted in 2008 against 413,430 in 2007. There was a rise of 6 per cent in accepted applicants from overseas, with Romania, Bulgaria, Singapore and China seeing the biggest rises. Anthony McClaran, chief executive of Ucas, said: "These figures make 2008 a record-breaking year. The increase in both applicants and acceptances is particularly strong in England, but all parts of the UK saw higher numbers."

Digital archives

Old news makes a splash on web

A significant collection of 17th- and 18th-century English newspapers has been made available online to academics. A digital version of the Burney Collection gives access to coverage of events such as a financial scandal in the 1720s, during which the Weekly Journal reported Parliament's ruling that the head of a stricken company leaving the country would risk "death as a felon without benefit of clergy, and forfeit to the King all his Lands, Goods and Chattels whatsoever". Assembled by the Reverend Charles Burney in the late 1700s and early 1800s, the collection is held at the British Library. The digital version has been produced in collaboration with the Joint Information Systems Committee and can be accessed by academics at


Council's staff feel 'empowered'

A new staff survey paints a largely rosy picture of life as an employee of the Higher Education Funding Council for England, but also highlights some problems. The organisation employs about 250 full-time staff, most based in Bristol, and its annual review reveals that eight felt they had suffered harassment at work in the past year. Fewer than half of survey respondents said they were satisfied with their pay, significantly below the average for high-performing companies in the UK. Despite these blips, the majority of the survey's findings were positive, with more than 90 per cent of staff reporting that they felt "empowered" and "appreciated" in their jobs. Hefce recorded low rates of absence due to illness, with its annual tally of 4.7 days per employee less than half the average across all government services.

Postgraduate funding

Scotland to support part-timers

The Scottish Government is extending its financial support for postgraduates to cover the fees of 150 part-time students in areas linked to its economic priorities, including energy, life sciences, tourism, food and drink industries, financial and business services, creative industries and education. Scotland's Postgraduate Student Allowances Scheme provides discretionary support for taught postgraduates, but until now has been restricted to full-time students. The pilot scheme for part-time students will be launched in 2009-10, and the Scottish Government will shortly announce which institutions and subject areas will be covered.

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