Today's news

October 21, 2003

Amount of fees support not set in stone, Clarke says

Charles Clarke has hinted at a softening of stance on higher tuition fees after a confrontation yesterday with the angry mother of a student during a visit to a West London school. Jan Krall told the education secretary that a lack of government support for students meant that her son, who is studying engineering at Swansea, would leave university with huge debts. "I've brought up my children not to borrow, and I can't get my head around the idea of encouraging them to get into £15,000 to £20,000 worth of debts." She said that government policy was contradictory, urging people to save for their old age while encouraging the young to go into debt. Mr Clarke conceded that the amount being set aside for support was not "set in stone".
( Times, Guardian, Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph )

Poorest third of students to avoid new fees
Universities will be instructed to charge relatively well-off students the full top-up fees, and re-distribute a third of the total as bursaries or fee remissions to those with poorer parents. Charles Clarke, said yesterday that he was aiming for a situation where "the total fee, even where it is £3,000, is covered for students from the poorest 30 per cent to 37 per cent of homes". The National Union of Students, which is organising a national demonstration against top-up fees in London on Sunday, said parents feared their children would not be able to fulfil their potential because they inherited brains rather than money.
( Daily Telegraph )

University pay deal in the balance
A pay deal for the 350,000 staff in universities and higher education colleges is in the balance today as lecturers begin voting on the complex offer. After a stormy special conference of Natfhe delegates at the weekend, which rejected the leadership's plea for a deal, the union is balloting its 17,500 members in the new universities and higher education colleges on the two-year pay deal and the proposed new pay structure, which covers staff from senior lecturers to cleaners.
( Guardian )

Deech to play host as visitors bow out
Dame Ruth Deech is standing down as principal of St Anne's College, Oxford, and pro-vice-chancellor of the university, to head the Office of the Independent Adjudicator. The remnants of the archaic university visitor system will be swept away early next year when she starts hearing appeals from dissatisfied students.
( Guardian )

'Viking sperm' may add to the gene pool again
An acute lack of sperm donors in Britain has forced the fertility watchdog, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority,  to consider "bulk" imports from Denmark. Richard Fleming, an infertility specialist at Glasgow Royal Infirmary, said he saw no problem importing Danish sperm. "The Vikings have been sharing their gene pool for centuries."
( Daily Telegraph )

Stoned age discovered in Northamptonshire
Archaeologists from Newcastle report finding the first opium poppy seeds in Britain at a Neolithic burial site in Northamptonshire dating from about 3,800BC. Details are published in the magazine British Archaeology . ( Guardian )

Scientists hope to end flu misery within five years
A drug that prevents all the symptoms of flu, from high fever to a stuffy nose, could be available within five years as a result of research by British scientists. Researchers at Imperial College, London, have disclosed that the drug was so effective in tests on mice that they could not tell healthy animals from those that had flu. Details of the study are published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine .
( Times )

Scots research considers banding together
The need to compete with English research departments has led Scottish universities to consider banding together to bid for research funds.
( Guardian )

Aussie rules at Manchester
Alan Gilbert, vice-chancellor of the University of Melbourne, and incumbent vice-chancellor of the newly merged University of Manchester, says that he is not afraid to ruffle feathers when he takes up his new post in February 2004.
( Guardian )

Divided loyalties
The mood of Labour students is gauged in the run-up to a national demonstration of students against top-up fees on Sunday.
( Guardian )

Public sector gets cream of the crop
Why more graduates with first-class degrees are opting to work in the public sector and why university performance is such a poor guide to subsequent professional performance.
( Evening Standard )

Pints and peanuts at Nottingham Trent
City diary: JD Wetherspoon is teaming up with the business school at Nottingham Trent University to offer an advanced diploma in leisure management.
( Times )

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