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March 31, 2003

Access regulator will focus on state schools
The government was accused yesterday of watering down its proposals for a regulator who will have the power to prevent universities charging top-up fees of as much as £3,000. The central role of the regulator, nicknamed Oftoff, will now be in monitoring universities' attempts to increase applications from disadvantaged students rather than judging changes to the social mix of an institution, as had previously been predicted. A spokesman also suggested that the title of the new watchdog would reflect the change of emphasis.
(Independent, Times)

Pupils could face tougher exam for elite colleges
Mike Tomlinson, the former Ofsted chief charged by the government with creating the new English baccalaureate qualification, is examining ways to make the baccalaureate more demanding for the brightest students. He is considering the inclusion of a compulsory paper in critical thinking that would be equal in content to an additional A level. Pupils would have to achieve the equivalent of four top-grade A levels for places at universities such as Oxford, Cambridge, Bristol and Nottingham.

Ofsted head stands by exam tables
The chief inspector of schools in England told head teachers yesterday that examination result league tables would stay. David Bell dismissed a call by the Secondary Heads' Association for tables of GCSE and A-level results to be scrapped. Parents had a right to information on the performance of schools.

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