Today's news

March 6, 2003

Manchester universities to merge
Two of Manchester's three universities are to merge to create one of Britain's biggest academic institutions after securing an £82 million package of public funding. The university councils of Manchester and Umist yesterday agreed to go ahead with the proposal to create a single institution by autumn next year. The two believe that a merged institution, which would have almost 30,000 full-time students, will be better placed to compete in a global market for students and research grants. Academics at both universities have expressed concerns about losing autonomy and identity, issues that contributed to the failed merger plan between Aston and Birmingham universities. However, the two Manchester institutions said a six-month review of the likely costs and benefits confirmed their view that a larger institution would improve Manchester's competitive position and enhance collaborative research in the region.
(Financial Times, Times)

Bristol to look at new screening system
Bristol University, caught in a public row over admissions, is to consider overhauling its system to dispel fears of bias against candidates from fee-paying independent schools. Vice-chancellor professor Eric Thomas said in an interview that the university would look at plans to set up a centralised US-style admissions centre run by professionals rather than co-opted academics. He rejected claims that Bristol ran a quota system, but he conceded that Bristol had taken official benchmarks on widening access and turned them into targets for each department.
(Financial Times, Times)

Clarke urges teachers to defy Bristol boycott
Private school head teachers were urged by the government yesterday to defy their leadership's call for a boycott of Bristol University in the growing row over admissions. Education secretary Charles Clarke said the advice from the leaders of the country's top fee-paying schools to boycott the university over claims that it runs a quota system that allocates places for working class students was unwise and misguided. He backed a statement by David Hart, head of the National Association of Head Teachers, who said independent leaders were shooting themselves in the foot and were engaged in gesture politics of the worst kind.
(Financial Times, Daily Telegraph, Guardian)

A levels are more profitable than arts degrees
Arts graduates earn less than their friends who decided to give university a miss after gaining their A levels, according to researchers at Warwick University. Male graduates in English, history and other arts subjects earn about 7 per cent less than their peers whose educational achievement stretched to only two A levels or more. Female graduates earn about 4 per cent less. The findings are published in the Office for National Statistics' monthly Labour Market Trends journal.
(Financial Times)

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