Universities warned over creation of fees cartels
Charles Clarke yesterday warned universities that if they collectively fixed prices so that all students faced the prospect of a £3,000 "top-up fee" the government would step in to bust the cartel. The education secretary, reacting to reports that many universities were planning to charge the top fee from the outset of the new system in 2006, hinted that he might turn to the Office of Fair Trading if there were evidence of fixing. Asked in an interview if the Russell Group, representing elite universities, exhibited aspects of cartel-like behaviour, he replied: "You might say that - I couldn't possibly comment."
Clarke supports university bias to poorer students
Education secretary Charles Clarke told a conference of university academics in London yesterday that he supports moves by top universities to discriminate in favour of students from poorer backgrounds. Mr Clarke said he considered it his job to ease the path of poorer students into elite universities such as Bristol and Edinburgh, despite complaints from independent schools that their pupils were being unfairly turned down. Bristol dismissed accusations of bias yesterday after it rejected a sixth-former with "essentially perfect credentials" from fee-paying Bedford School. His headmaster questioned why Bristol failed even to make a conditional offer.
(Times, Guardian, Daily Telegraph)
Mystery candidate for Oxford chancellorship
A mystery fifth candidate entered the contest for Chancellor of Oxford University yesterday just 15 minutes before the deadline for nominations passed. University officials were examining the application amid confusion over whether the candidate, whom they declined to name but said was not a well-known figure, had consented to enter next month's election.
Christopher Hill remembered