Today's news

February 4, 2003

Feepayers' bankruptcy loophole to be closed
A loophole in the bankruptcy laws is to be closed to prevent students avoiding the payment of university top-up fees, ministers said yesterday. Charles Clarke, the education secretary, has made it clear his plans for university reform will not be derailed by students going bankrupt, an option taken by students in Canada in the early 1990s when fees rose and the jobs market collapsed. Student union leaders suggested that hard-pressed graduates with debts in excess of £20,000 might be tempted to take a late gap year and seek bankruptcy in order to emerge a year later with their debts cancelled.
(Financial Times)

Warning issued to Scottish higher education
Scotland may have to consider closing higher education institutions if it wants to keep its best universities, the president of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, Lord Sutherland of Houndwood, has warned. The former Edinburgh University principal warned that Scottish institutions could lose top staff in "border raids" to better-resourced English universities. This could undermine the executive's core strategy of reviving Scotland's economy through an emphasis on "skills and science" and the commercialisation of Scots academic research.
(Financial Times)

Till debt us do part
Student pessimism looks set to hinder the education secretary's top-up plans. School and college students overestimate the amount of student debt they will run up and underestimate the income they will have at university, according to a report to be published tomorrow by Universities UK.
(Guardian, Times)

Climate change extends hay fever season
Spring this year will be heralded by the sound of sneezing, coughing and nose blowing as the nation's 12 million hay fever sufferers make an early start to the season. According to the National Pollen Research Unit climate change means that the trees and grasses most associated with hay fever are flowering early. Sufferers can experience symptoms as early as the end of February and the season that once ended in July runs through August.
(Guardian, Daily Telegraph)

Leading authority on English place names dies
Victor Watts, the medieval scholar whose research traced England's past through its place names and master of Grey College, Durham since 1989, has died aged 64.

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