Today's news

November 28, 2002

Straw's son leads Oxford fees revolt
Oxford University students are set to pass a motion of no confidence in their chancellor, Lord Jenkins, over his support for top-up fees. The move follows reports that it was the former SDP leader who convinced the prime minister that he should support higher fees. The motion, to be considered tomorrow by the Oxford University Student Union, was tabled by Will Straw, its president and the son of the foreign secretary, Jack Straw. Will Straw tells today's Oxford Student paper that Lord Jenkins "demonstrates a lack of understanding of the issues of student hardship and increasing access". The Oxford vice-chancellor, Sir Colin Lucas, has accepted the case for higher fees providing they are capped and some provision is made for poorer students.

Edinburgh principal attacks top-up fees
The head of one of Britain's top universities has rounded on the idea of charging students up-front top-up fees because it would deter the poor from higher education. Timothy O'Shea, the new principal of Edinburgh University, said that asking the disadvantaged to pay top-up fees was in effect the same as asking them to take on a mortgage, and would deter applications. Although Scotland has no plans for top-up fees, having issued guidance against them, Professor O'Shea's comments come from Scotland's top higher education institution - and his views will carry weight in the raging debate at Westminster.
(Financial Times)

Universities to solicit income from business
Universities will be encouraged to boost their income by working more closely with business under proposals set out by Gordon Brown. The Chancellor and Patricia Hewitt, the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, appointed Richard Lambert to head an independent review of links between business and higher education. Mr Lambert, the former Editor of the Financial Times and member of The Times ’s monetary policy committee, will look at how companies can make better use of research facilities at universities to improve productivity. He will also examine how universities can capitalise on technological innovations and market their research capabilities more aggressively to provide much-needed income.

Ucas chief blames private schools for A-level fiasco
Poor standards of teaching in independent schools were to blame for this summer's A–level problems, the head of the universities' admissions service says today. Tony Higgins, chief executive of the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service, says many private schools are still appealing against their results despite the fact that figures for the number of students swapping universities after marks have been checked indicate there was no A-level "crisis". His comments were described as "outrageous" by Geoff Lucas, secretary of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference, which represents leading independent boys' schools. He accused Mr Higgins of having "foot-in-mouth disease" and demanded to see evidence that teaching standards were to blame.

The rise of northern academic enterprise
There has been a surge of university spin-offs in the north of England. A recent survey of the commercialisation process in universities by Unico, the UK university companies association, and Nottingham University Business School has revealed a marked increase in such spin-offs - 175 new companies during 2001, or 31 per cent of the 554 formed in the past five years. Figures so far compiled for 2002 suggest that a greater proportion has been started in the north of the country.
(Financial Times)

Student's change their tune
An Oxford University undergraduate radio station has been told it will have to change its name if it is to get a licence because its acronym could cause offence. Altered Radio Sound Education applied to broadcast on FM after a successful experiment as an online service delivering a mix of local music and satirical documentaries.
(Daily Telegraph)

First face transplant only 6 months away
British surgeons say they could carry out the world's first full face transplant within six to nine months. A team from the Royal Free Hospital in London believes the operation is technically feasible and ethically justifiable for patients who have suffered serious burns, facial cancers or accidents.
(Daily Mail, Guardian, Independent, Times)

'Santa' Clarke's coming to college
College leaders may be delighted with their 'Christmas present', but there's a sting in the tail.

Why FE lecturers won't work for peanuts
Report on further education teacher grievances.

So, when should A-level students apply?
Report on plans to relieve exam period of some stress.

Degrees down under
A look at university study in Australia.

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