Today's news

October 7, 2003

We won't scrap grants, says HE minister
Universities will still be short of money even if the government pushes through its contentious plans for top-up fees, the higher education minister, Alan Johnson, admitted yesterday. Mr Johnson said he believed enough of the 140 Labour MPs who have criticised proposals to allow universities to charge fees of up to £3,000 a year could be persuaded to back the government in critical Commons votes this session. The former postman, who left school aged 15, said he was trying to find ways to prevent working-class students paying any more towards their university education. He promised there would still be grants available to them from 2006.
( Guardian )

Nobel prize for the man who saw through us
Sir Peter Mansfield, 69, of Nottingham University was awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine yesterday for inventing the MRI scan. He shares the accolade with Paul Lauterbur, a US scientist from the University of Illinois.
( Times, Daily Telegraph, Independent, Financial Times, Daily Mail )

Foundation degree courses to fill skills gaps
Alan Johnson, minister for higher education, is expected to publish today a prospectus for the second stage of foundation degree development. The Higher Education Funding Council for England will ask colleges and businesses to submit proposals for new courses, for which £8.5 million has been provided over three years. The vocational degrees are designed to broaden participation in higher education and fill skills gaps in the economy.
( Financial Times )

University courts three-year-olds
Wolverhampton University has gone into partnership with a small primary school in a deprived area of the town in an attempt to see whether more bright youngsters from working-class backgrounds can be persuaded to consider university, if you start pushing it early enough both with them and with their parents.
( Guardian )

Brown backs initiative to raise funds for R&D
Britain's chancellor, Gordon Brown, will today announce a landmark agreement with France and Germany that puts spending on research and development at the heart of a strategy to boost economic growth in the European Union.
( Financial Times )

Call for lighting curbs to bring back night sky
People whose view of the night sky is ruined by outdoor lighting should have the right to insist that offending lamps are switched off or dimmed, a report by the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee has recommended. All the nation's leading observatories have been forced to move their main instruments abroad, as domestic skies are not dark enough for worthwhile observations.
( Times , Guardian )

Other higher education items
Anyone for a top-up? The government is determined to plough on with variable fees ( Guardian ) · Interview with Howard Davies, new director of the LSE ( Guardian ) · Advice to freshers on dealing with university reality ( Guardian ) · Letter: Alan Ryan points out that governments do not have the legal power to set university fees ( Daily Telegraph ) · The Open University is to be one of the providers of the Teacher Training Agency's new Student Associate Scheme ( Independent ).

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