Today's news

January 20, 2003

Clarke predicts graduation debt will be £21k
Students will graduate up to £21,000 in debt under the government's plans to increase university tuition fees to a maximum of £3,000 a year. Charles Clarke, the education secretary, indicated yesterday that he expected student debt to rise by as much as 50 per cent. He confirmed that the present £1,100 fee would be abolished and students asked to repay their debts once they graduate and start work. Repayments will rise in line with graduate earnings. Shadow education secretary Damian Green branded plans to create a university "access regulator" a disgrace. Phil Willis, the Liberal Democrat education spokesman, said that the prospect of long-term debt would deter people from going to university.
(Times, Financial Times, Independent, Daily Telegraph, Guardian, Daily Mail)

Fees will alter students' university choices
One in three students say they would not have opted for their first choice university if it had charged top-up fees, according to a poll published tomorrow. The survey on student living, carried out by polling company Mori for accommodation firm Unite, suggests that the plan could transform the pattern of university choice. Mori asked 1,086 students to say what they would have done if their first-choice university had demanded a top-up fee. 24 per cent agreed it would not have mattered, while 35 per cent would have considered other universities but probably still have chosen the same university. 16 per cent said they would have definitely chosen a university that did not charge a top-up fee, and 21 per cent would have considered other universities and probably chosen one that did not charge top-up fees.

Lecturer sacked over toy firearm
A lecturer from Doncaster College has been dismissed after allowing a student to bring a toy gun into college for use in a photography project. The college took a hard line on the incident bearing in mind calls from the home secretary to make the possession of replica firearms illegal. They dismissed the lecturer, Richard Browning, citing health and safety regulations. Union officials representing Mr Browning say the decision was harsh because the gun he had allowed on to the premises could not fire bullets and was kept in a cupboard when it was not needed for the class.
(Times, Daily Telegraph)

Review proposes company degree courses
Companies suffering low productivity because of skills shortages will be able to create their own degree courses with local universities to train more than 100,000 potential employees for industry, under proposals in this week's review of higher education. Universities will be pressed to ensure graduates pick up key life skills, such as team working, during their courses and that this should be reflected in their final degree classification.
(Financial Times)

Advisers at odds with Bush on admissions
Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice, the two highest-ranking black advisers to president George W. Bush, yesterday discreetly distanced themselves from his recent opposition to the use of race as a factor in university admissions. Both said Mr Bush's record on race relations was solid and he had been well aware of their views before deciding to weigh in on the case.
(Financial Times)

Iraqi scientist denies secret nuclear programme
The Edinburgh-educated Iraqi nuclear scientist found with 3,000 pages of research documents insisted yesterday that the papers seized by United Nations inspectors were not evidence of a secret nuclear programme. Faleh Hassan Hamza complained of Mafia-like tactics adopted by the UN and said he was prepared to go "line by line, word by word" through the documents that inspectors took from his home to demonstrate that they had "nothing to do with weapons of mass destruction".
(Daily Telegraph)

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