Today's news

January 20, 2004


I will survive, says Blair as fees find surprise support
Tony Blair's much-contested scheme for university top-up fees will be backed as "commendable" and "essential" by one of the world's leading economic monitoring bodies, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, in its annual review. Speaking after a grilling over fees on BBC 2's Newsnight , Mr Blair admitted he faces a "difficult" time, but said: "I believe I will survive it, yes."
( The Times , The Guardian , The Independent, The Daily Telegraph, Financial Times , Daily Mail )

Middle-class student takes up battle with PM
A 19-year-old medical student put the prime minister on the spot over top-up fees last night during a Newsnight debate when she repeatedly interrupted him to highlight the crippling debts she will face after graduation. The carefully chosen studio audience of students, parents, business people and academic was the latest of the government's "Big Conversations".
( The Guardian , The Daily Telegraph , Daily Mail )

Clarke offers bigger student debts to help with living costs
Poorer students would graduate with bigger debts under a proposal to increase maintenance grants unveiled by Charles Clarke, the education secretary, yesterday. Under the proposal, instead of a reduction of £1,200 on their tuition fees, poorer students could opt to add the cash to their £1,500 maintenance grants. However, the extra assistance would have to be paid for by a cut of at least £850 a year in the size of maintenance loans and would also leave them liable to pay the full tuition fee on graduation, so poorer students could actually end up an extra £1,000 in debt.
( The Times )

Scotland will benefit from top-up fees
Scotland will benefit to the tune of £200 million from the introduction of top-up fees in England even thought the policy does not apply there. The cash will come through "consequentials" from the operation of the Barnett formula, which gives Scotland a population-based proportion of government spending in England. The disclosure is likely to cause anger, as it will be seen as an incentive for Scottish Labour MPs to support Tony Blair on the issue.
( The Times )

Britain has too many graduates, warn employers
More than two-thirds of graduate recruiters believe that Britain has too many university students, according to research published yesterday by the Association of Graduate Recruiters.
( The Independent , Financial Times )

The disproving of Prof Meadow's Law
The discrediting of a leading paediatrician is behind the current review on cot deaths. ( The Daily Telegraph , The Guardian )

Police enquire into ‘assaults’ on Hawking
Stephen Hawking, the celebrated physicist, is to be interviewed by police over claims that he is the victim of a series of violent assaults. Professor Hawking, who is confined to a wheelchair, has allegedly been subjected to a number of attacks that have left his family and nursing staff concerned for his safety.
( The Times , The Daily Telegraph )

Light verse wins £10,000 poetry prize
The £10,000 T. S. Eliot prize, once described by Andrew Motion, the Poet Laureate, as the award "most poets want to win" was awarded last night to Don Paterson. His Landing Light was judged the best collection of new poetry published in Britain and Ireland in 2003. Not only is Paterson the first poet to win the prize twice (he won it first in 1997), but also his win comes just two weeks after he scooped the Whitbread poetry prize.
( The Times , The Guardian )

Smith to head judges for Man Booker Prize
Chris Smith, the former culture secretary, will chair the five-strong panel of judges for this year's Man Booker Prize.
( The Independent )

Actresses still have 55 years to wait for Godot
A German theatre production of Samuel Beckett's play Waiting for Godot has been scrapped after a publisher's objection to the presence of women actors. They claim Beckett wouldn't have wanted it, and according to copyright law Beckett's wishes must be adhered to for 70 years after his death - in other words until 2059.
( The Daily Telegraph )

This isn't a revolt against tuition fees, it's a revolt against Blair
Labour MPs' destructive defiance could bring down the prime minister, argues Martin Kettle
( The Guardian )

Bright young things
Those bright young people who don't get into Oxbridge are hardly rejects, says Eric Thomas, vice-chancellor of the University of Bristol.
( The Guardian )

I'll be broke
Tuition fees in California are soaring and now Governor Schwarzenegger wants to slash state funding, fuelling fears that US public universities are in crisis.
( The Guardian )

Devout sceptic
Despite some reservations, Dianne Willcocks, principal of York St John college, is lobbying for the fees bill.
( The Guardian )

All in a term's work
A new survey shows 42 per cent of students now have a job - and most say it's the only way to survive. Does it do them any harm?
( The Guardian )

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