News in brief

July 16, 2009

Research councils

BBSRC unveils bio-strategy

Bioenergy and biorenewables, food security and bioscience for health have been identified by a research council as its strategic priorities. Opening a consultation period on its new policy, which is due to be launched at the end of the year, Douglas Kell, chief executive of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, said he hoped that scientists would help shape the final strategy, which was "intended to underpin UK future economic competitiveness and address some of the major needs facing society". The deadline for responses is 14 September.

www.bbsrc.ac.uk

Tuition fees

Leeds Met to charge full whack

Leeds Metropolitan University has raised its tuition fees by more than £1,000 a year, bringing it in line with the rest of the sector. The decision follows internal wrangling over the raising of fees before the departure of Simon Lee, Leeds Met's former vice-chancellor, who wanted to keep lower fees and who stepped down in February. A statement released by the university said: "Governors have made a unanimous decision to increase fees to the level of all other universities, which will be £3,312 for full-time undergraduates from 2010-11." Lewis Coakley, president of the Leeds Met Students' Union, said the university now had a responsibility to provide additional support for hard-up students. "Should a generous bursary scheme be developed, we will be satisfied that some of the aims of (our) campaign for fair fees have been achieved," he said.

For more on this story, visit http://tiny.cc/B6l7g

Tuition fees

Stay-at-home fees plan criticised

A plan to drop university tuition fees for students who live with their parents while studying risks widening the gap between the haves and the have-nots, critics have warned. The University and College Union said the idea - thought to be one option contained in the Government's draft framework on the future of higher education - could force cash-strapped students to study for degrees that do not suit them. Stephen Williams, the Liberal Democrats' Universities Spokesman, said the proposal was a cost-saving measure masquerading as a way to help students. Under the "no-fee degrees" proposal, students in England could choose not to pay fees but would forgo the Government's low-interest loans or other financial support.

For more on this story, visit http://tiny.cc/wkLGH

Pre-university standards

Maths A level 'doesn't add up'

Academics have called on the Government to abandon a proposed new maths A level, claiming it would not provide sufficient preparation for studying at university. A group called Educators for Reform, which includes 55 maths lecturers, argues that the proposed "use of mathematics"qualification is not of A-level standard and will disadvantage the poorest students. However, the London Mathematical Society and the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications came to the qualification's defence, accusing the group of "overlooking pupils who could benefit from carrying on with maths after GCSE, but who would struggle with A level".

Correction

In an opinion piece last week ("From where I sit", 9 July), we said that Chinese Communist leader Mao Zedong died in 1979. He died in 1976. Apologies.

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