Today's news

October 28, 2002

Clarke to push 3p in the pound graduate tax
University graduates face the prospect of a new tax to pay for their higher education, it emerged yesterday. Education secretary Charles Clarke favours plans for a new levy of up to 3p in the pound to cover the cost of university courses. He believes the current system of fees and student loans acts as a powerful disincentive to working class children taking a degree course. Mr Clarke is ready to challenge Tony Blair on the issue.
(Daily Mail)

Change may earn universities reduction in red tape
Universities are to win greater freedom from regulatory red tape in return for agreeing to a package of reforms to be announced in next month's white paper on higher education. John VandeLinde, vice-chancellor of Warwick University, is to chair a taskforce designed to sweep away many unwanted and unnecessary inspections and audits in universities. Prof VandeLinde, a former US academic and administrator, has been given a wide-ranging brief by Margaret Hodge, the higher education minister.
(Financial Times)

Students say top-up fees will exclude middle-class
A critical report by the Aldwych Group of students from 18 leading universities warns that if education secretary Charles Clarke allows their institutions to charge up to £10,500 a year - the figure suggested this month by Imperial College, London - middle-class students would be the victims.

Exam chief says A levels need radical overhaul
A wide-ranging overhaul of A levels is needed to restore public confidence after the "grade-fixing" debacle, John Kerr, chief executive of Edexcel, said yesterday. He said that even the name should be ditched to make the public understand that the A-level "gold standard" had changed irrevocably. The new AS and A2 exams introduced under the government's "Curriculum 2000" reforms were very different from the old A level, he said. It was not possible to compare pass rates between the two exam systems.

Stubbs to issue writ
Sir William Stubbs, who was sacked during the A-level marking dispute, will issue a High Court writ for wrongful dismissal against the government this week. Sir William, the former chairman of the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, is expected to claim £250,000 for loss of income, damage to his reputation and "anguish".

'I still love you,' Morris tells audience
Estelle Morris opened her heart to the nation's top teachers at the weekend, just days after quitting her cabinet job, winning two standing ovations. The former education secretary told a gathering of teachers in London that she loved them and believed in them, and had not deserted them by resigning. Breaking her silence since a frank TV interview on Wednesday explaining the reasons for her decision, she said education remained her passion and that she wanted to try to remain involved in it.

French students revolt
Some 43 students at France's most respected college are taking legal action after being marked down for treating subordinates with arrogance during work experience. The Ecole Nationale d'Administration has penalised students under a new marking system for such failings as refusing to make coffee for the office secretary. The protesters say that the system is arbitrary, unfair and unworthy of a college set up to train France's brightest to become top civil servants.

Scientists fear deadly virus has arrived in UK
Scientists are urgently trying to determine whether a killer virus wreaking havoc in the US has arrived in Britain. Evidence has been found in dead birds of antibodies to West Nile virus, although no human cases have been detected in this country. Doctors had been warned to look out for unexplained instances of brain inflammation.

Nelson's Nile heroes unearthed
Two hundred years after the Napoleonic wars, the graves of some of those who fought under England's most famous sea captain, Horatio Nelson, have been found on a tiny scrub-covered island off the Egyptian coast, according to the London-based Nelson Society.

Love can hurt the head as well as the heart
Sex can give men and women "explosive" headaches, with up to one in 100 experiencing the painful side of making love, scientists from the University of Münster, Germany, have found. Three times more men than women in the study had sexual headaches. The group at highest risk of a first attack was aged between 20 and 25.

Study to tackle male breast cancer stigma
Researchers from the University Hospital of Wales are launching a survey of 2,000 to 3,000 men living with breast cancer in the UK in an attempt to ensure they receive fair treatment from the NHS. About 240 men a year are diagnosed with the disease but the problem receives little publicity and all the available treatment and advice is geared to women.

Lessing laments slaying of the publisher's dragon
Doris Lessing has criticised the publishing industry for getting rid of the "dragons", the old school of copy editor, after finding that her latest novel contained mistakes. Lessing, 83, who has written 63 books since 1949, said that these days mistakes were commonplace. "The present editors don’t know what copy-editing should be," she said. "The big publishing firms are cost-cutting and have sacked their brilliant copy editors."

Italian lover for Lady Chatterley
An author claims to have revealed "the true story" of the Italian army officer who was the lover of D. H. Lawrence's wife, Frieda, and model for Oliver Mellors, the hero of Lady Chatterley’s Lover. Alberto Bevilacqua reveals the affair in his new book, a novel, Through your Body ( Attraverso il tuo corpo ).

Website to showcase UK culture
A website promoting UK culture, heritage and trade abroad will be launched by the foreign office today. The site - - was set up in partnership with Trade Partners UK, Invest UK, the British Council and the British Tourist Authority.
(Press Association/Financial Times)

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