Today's news

January 22, 2003

Marxist past comes back to haunt Clarke
Charles Clarke, the self-proclaimed Marxist student leader of the 1970s, will haunt Charles Clarke, the education secretary, today as he announces plans for top-up tuition fees in England and Wales. The president of the National Union of Students in 1975-77 would have denounced the pro-market Blairite politician he has become in the intervening 26 years. The heavily bearded Cambridge graduate campaigned against proposals for the introduction of loans and tuition fees. He said: "Most people will choose to seek some form of job rather than mortgage their future to higher education, as any loan system implies. The effect of implementing a loan system will be to make the select few even fewer, and to make education even more the cabbage patch of the middle classes and upper middle classes."

University research to get £1.25bn boost
University research departments are to get a £1.25 billion boost when the government today publishes plans to create a grade of six-star world-class faculties. Departments will be encouraged to team up as consortia to bid for funds, and aim to back young researchers with international potential. The proposals are spelt out in the higher education white paper.
(Financial Times)

Oxbridge colleges may lose autonomy
The education secretary will deliver a blow today to the centuries-old and fiercely guarded autonomy of Oxford and Cambridge colleges. Charles Clarke will instruct his new tuition fees regulator to treat Oxford and Cambridge as ordinary universities when examining their record on offering places to working-class students. The move will strengthen the hand of university admissions staff to force individual colleges to take more working-class students.
(Times, Guardian)

Tutors suit us, thank you
Oxford is revamping its ancient tutorial system, but an undergraduate from St John's College argues that it is a tradition that must be preserved.
(Daily Telegraph)

Workplace degrees plan to ease student debt
Thousands of students will be offered the chance to study for "learn-while-you-earn" degrees under the government's long-awaited higher education white paper published today. Ministers will announce plans for further education colleges to provide a range of courses aimed at helping young people to study while they hold down a full-time job. This is seen as the key to reaching the government's target of getting 50 per cent of young people into a form of higher education by the end of the decade.

Bac to replace A levels and GCSEs by 2010
Ministers set a clear deadline yesterday for the abolition of A level and GCSE qualifications in secondary schools. Children now in their junior years at primary school are likely to study for a baccalaureate certificate instead under proposals set out by Charles Clarke, the education secretary, and David Miliband, the school standards minister. Their announcement effectively pensions off A levels at the end of this decade, 60 years after their introduction in 1951.
(Times, Daily Mail, Financial Times, Daily Telegraph, Independent)

Law firms pay graduates to take a year off
City firms are paying young graduates more than £14,000 to take a holiday before they start their first job because of a slump in business. One of Britain's biggest law firms is offering 30 new recruits from law school a £14,250 lump sum if they defer their start at the firm for a year. Unsurprisingly the offers have been snapped up by the trainees and are already oversubscribed.

Alien life form created in US lab
The world's first truly unnatural organism has been created by scientists in a quest to understand the chemical language of life. Save two very rare known exceptions, every living thing has shared the same basic set of amino acid building blocks from which all proteins are made to construct and operate an organism. Now an American team from Franklin and Marshall College, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, have created an unnaturally complex organism that can produce a 21st amino acid and incorporate it into proteins. The findings appear at the end of this month in the Journal of the American Chemical Society .
(Daily Telegraph)

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