News in brief

July 7, 2011

Medical training

Short-term regimen for fees pain

The government has announced temporary measures for medical students who had feared they would have to pay up front to meet increases to tuition fees for courses starting in the 2012-13 academic year. There were worries that students, particularly those taking four-year graduate-entry courses, would have to stump up thousands of pounds in additional costs because an NHS bursary scheme that covers some fees would be unable to meet the higher charges. Student loans will now be offered to those starting graduate-entry programmes to cover the extra costs while the bursary will continue to meet fees for the latter part of undergraduate courses.


New chair for troubled institution

The former vice-chancellor of Kingston University is to become the chair of governors at the University of Gloucestershire. Sir Peter Scott, professor of higher education studies at the Institute of Education, will take up the role in the autumn after the retirement of the incumbent, Malcolm Herbert. Sir Peter's appointment follows a troubled period for Gloucestershire, which has faced financial deficits, interventions by the funding council, legal action by employees and an independent review of its governance. It has already announced that Stephen Marston - director general for higher education funding and reform at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills - will be its next vice-chancellor, starting in August.

Climate science

Divulge data, the sky won't fall

The Information Commissioner's Office has ordered the University of East Anglia to release data from weather stations around the globe. Several individuals, including University of Oxford professor Jonathan Jones, had requested access to the data used to calculate temperature changes. UEA cited various reasons for its refusal, arguing that the data were already publicly available; that releasing them would have an adverse effect on "international relations"; and that exposure would have a deleterious impact on "intellectual property rights" and the "interests of the informationprovider". The commissioner "found no compelling evidence" to support these objections, Nature reported.


No respite for 'fee refugees'

Unions have criticised the Scottish government after it announced that universities in the country would be able to charge fees of up to £9,000 a year to students from England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The plans, intended to stem a flood of "fee refugees", were announced last week by Mike Russell, the Scottish education secretary. Scottish students will not pay fees. The National Union of Students Scotland accused the ruling Scottish National Party of hypocrisy: "The SNP rejected a market in tuition fees for Scottish students prior to the election, only to introduce one immediately after for...the rest of the UK."

Graduate employment

Good news for Class of 2010

The number of new graduates finding jobs has risen for the first time since the credit crunch began, official figures show. The proportion in employment rose from 61 per cent for 2008-09 to 64 per cent for 2009-10, according to the Higher Education Statistics Agency. The employment levels nearly match those recorded for 2005-06 (66 per cent).


The news that one in four student places is to be thrown open to competition between universities provoked comment online.

One reader writes: "It is always good to see the academic community getting conned into fighting like ferrets in a sack again! (Margaret) Thatcher did it about 30 years ago and then went on to devastate the mining and manufacturing industries while the academic community was silenced.

"It is a strategy that has almost been turned into an art form."

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