Today's news

May 19, 2003

Ministers may be flexible on top-up fees
The Department for Education and Skills yesterday sought to play down suggestions that it was poised to make big concessions to win over opponents of its plan to charge university top-up fees. But insiders conceded that ministers would take a "flexible" approach when the legislation started its passage through parliament. An aide to Charles Clarke, education secretary, said that holding an independent inquiry into the way universities were funded - as some leftwing MPs are demanding - was "not something that we are seriously entertaining". Another official responded coolly to a proposal from Peter Hain, Welsh secretary, that the government could "shoot the Tory fox" by scrapping upfront fees ahead of the next election - before top-up fees are introduced. Mr Clarke told agitated Labour MPs last week that he would listen to their concerns.
(Financial Times)

Science body boasts 4.4% rise in women fellows
The Royal Society has appointed a record number of women in an effort to banish its reputation for sexism and stuffiness. Nine women are among 42 new Fellows elected today, bringing the number of women members above 50 for the first time since they were admitted in 1945. New appointments bring the number of women fellows to 52, or 4.4 per cent of the fellowship. Women account for 11 per cent of those elected in the past five years, a higher proportion than the 9 per cent of female professors in science and engineering departments. Seven of the nine new fellows work in medical or biological research, the field of science in which women are most likely to be appointed to senior posts.
(Times, Daily Telegraph)

Exeter tops Oxford's value for money college league table
Exeter College, Oxford, emerges triumphant from a comparison of Oxford colleges' academic record with the cost of attending them. The table, based on figures supplied to The Times by student researchers, uses each college's average performance in the Norrington rankings of degree results over the past three years and compares it with the annual cost of rents, meals and other charges. Exeter does well, despite coming 26th in last year's Norrington table, because of two top ten performances in the previous years and the lowest annual cost of £1,706.82. (Times)

Insurers change image to woo graduates
A new scheme is seeking to boost the number of graduates entering the insurance industry, using an approach pioneered in the Netherlands that is designed to counter its "unsexy" image. A company called A Sure Talent hires graduates straight from university on £20,000 a year, gives them information technology training and promises them assignments with at least four insurers during a two-year period, for which it charges the employers fees.
See also supplement on business schools, including performance league tables.
(Financial Times)

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