Today's news

January 23, 2003

Biggest higher education upheaval for a generation
What does the government's white paper means for UK universities, students and parents? A full summary and analysis of the white paper can be found in today's special edition of The THES - out for the first time on a Thursday:

  • £2.3 billion sweetener fails to buy off critics
  • Universities allowed to charge top-up fees of up to £3,000
  • Cash lavished on research giants
  • New teaching academy to raise status of teaching
  • Research-poor urged to seek destiny with business
  • Maintenance grants reintroduced for poorest students
  • Access tsar to be able to penalise elitists

Top universities dash for more cash in 2006
Up to 40 leading universities will charge students £3,000 a year as soon as they are allowed to, vice-chancellors said yesterday. Members of the Russell Group of 19 top universities,  meeting in London today to discuss its response to the white paper, are set to lead the dash for higher tuition fees from 2006, followed by around 20 other institutions. The speed with which universities are preparing to impose higher charges will deepen worries among Labour MPs that it will open up a wealth divide in higher education.
(Times, Financial Times, Guardian)

Graduates face higher tax than millionaires
Plans to allow universities to treble the cost of tuition fees and leave graduates with average debts of £15,000 provoked uproar from backbench Labour MPs and university vice-chancellors last night. The government's long-awaited white paper on higher education, published yesterday, would lead to students starting to repay their debts once they earned £15,000 a year – at a rate of 9 per cent on any further income. Accountancy experts said that would lead to graduates paying a higher rate of tax (42 per cent) than millionaires (40 per cent) once they reached the threshold.

Back to school with Brent & Co
Britain's David Brent-style middle-managers should be sent back to school to learn how to compete with their international counterparts, a Harvard professor told an audience of academics and policymakers at the London School of Economics yesterday. Michael Porter, from Harvard's Institute of Strategy and Competitiveness, said skill shortages - and suspicion of modern management practices - had left some British firms stuck in the past, echoing the view of UK workplaces depicted in TV's The Office .

Gliding dinosaurs are birds' missing link
A set of fossils belonging to a winged and feathered dinosaur has been unearthed in China, providing one of the final missing links in the evolution of birds. Microraptor gui , a new species that lived about 128 million years ago, used four feathered limbs to glide from tree to tree like a flying squirrel - a "halfway" means of flight by which the first birds probably took to the skies. This would rule out the theory that flight originated among ground-based feathered dinosaurs.
(Times, Guardian, Independent, Daily Telegraph)

Family spending on cars beats food
Britain spends more on transport than food, housing or any other element of the weekly family budget, according to the Office for National Statistics annual Family Spending Survey . For the first time, average households now spend more on cars than anything else - some £49 of the £58 a week spent on transport goes on motoring. This exceeds the £41.70 a week spent on food and the £35.90 on housing. Leisure accounts for £54 a week. (Times)

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