News in brief

October 20, 2011

University sports

Game on for 2012

The third Universities Week is to celebrate the higher education sector's contribution to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Running from 30 April to 7 May next year, Universities Week will culminate in the British Universities & Colleges Sport (BUCS) Outdoor Athletics Championships at the Olympic Stadium. Universities UK, BUCS and Podium - an organisation helping to coordinate higher education's contribution to the Games - will produce a programme of events. Nicola Dandridge, UUK chief executive, said: "The London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It is also a great way of demonstrating the integral role our universities are playing in ensuring its success. With Universities Week we hope to show that it is not just students who benefit from university, but the whole of society."

International students

Tier 4 impact survey

After widespread debate over recent immigration changes for international students, the UK Council for International Student Affairs is mounting a survey on their impact on Tier 4 students arriving this year. Dominic Scott, the council's chief executive, said: "With the official impact assessment estimating a loss to the British economy of £3.4 billion as a result of the changes, it is vital that we assess now the actual impact on students arriving this year and urgently feed this back to government. The survey has been designed with, and is being supported by, all the major sector bodies and we are encouraging all universities, colleges and students' unions to promote it." The survey closes on 31 October.

Student loans

Payback time under review

The government is to look again at proposals that could mean that many part-time students would be required to repay tuition-fee loans while they are still studying. After a hearing of the education bill in the House of Lords, the government agreed to revisit the plans, which would require part-time students to begin repayment three-and-a-half years after starting a course, provided they are earning more than £21,000 a year. Liberal Democrat peers brought an amendment, arguing that the period should be extended to at least four-and-a-half years. Conservative peer Baroness Verma, speaking on behalf of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, said: "This is a very valid point and one that we need to consider very seriously."

Wales accreditation scandal

Get Met, go

The University of Wales Institute, Cardiff is to change its name to Cardiff Metropolitan University and award its own degrees. On 1 November, Uwic will leave the University of Wales, which has been hit by a series of scandals over its accreditation of degrees at linked colleges. Barbara Wilding, chair of Uwic's board of governors, said: "The board...has determined that there is a pressing need to now invoke our own degree-awarding powers and to adopt the new name, thereby signalling nationally and internationally our departure from the University of Wales." She added that Uwic had been "integral to the city since 1865" and looked forward to a bright future under the Cardiff Metropolitan title.

Online now

There was online debate over the news that David Willetts, the universities and science minister, had met with the private equity owner of US for-profit colleges, with a legal expert predicting private buy-outs in the sector within six months. "Money" warned that cash would "follow the student straight into the university and out again into the investors' pockets". But another reader said: "Let us examine how wonderful these public institutions in education and health are: almost without exception, all inner-city comprehensives fail the students at primary and secondary level."

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