Today's news

February 2, 2004


Top-up fees will mean 3,000 hardship 'snoops'
Local authorities are drawing up plans to hire up to 3,000 inspectors, at a cost of £100 million, to check the backgrounds of students claiming more than £1 billion of government support if top-up fees are introduced. The move has been inspired by memories of the fraud which blighted the old student maintenance scheme and by fears about existing university bursaries. Graham Lane, the education chairman of the Local Government Association, said that councils expected to be given responsibility for deciding who was eligible for the grants.
( Times )

Open University fears fees effect
The Open University has warned that it faces long-term damage, including staff cuts, unless the government steps in to protect part-time degrees. In a joint statement with London University's Birkbeck College, another specialist in part-time courses, the OU says it could be left financially crippled because its students cannot afford proposed new top-up fees as well as the existing charges for part-time courses.
( Guardian )

Universities fear science courses will disappear
Core subjects that have traditionally underpinned British universities are under threat as students choose easier options. The new top-up fees are likely to escalate the closure of small physics, chemistry and modern language departments, warn vice-chancellors. The latest figures from the Universities and Colleges Admission Service show sports science enrolled more students than physics and chemistry together. Over the past decade, 20 out of 70 university physics departments have closed.
( Daily Telegraph )

'Doomsday scenario' casts shadow over chemistry
The Royal Society of Chemistry predicting that there could be as few as six chemistry departments left within ten years. The decline has triggered widespread alarm, given that chemistry underpins high-tech innovation and is crucial for the bioscience industry that generates £3 billion in revenues and for the wider chemicals sector which has a turnover of £49 billion. The "doomsday scenario" was that the only departments to survive would be Durham, Cambridge, Imperial, UCL, Bristol and Oxford, said Dr David Giachardi, chief executive of the society.
( Daily Telegraph )

Letters : Employability is not just about knowing your subject ( Financial Times ); Is a university education really worthwhile? ( Times )

Obituary : Charlotte Jolles, emeritus professor of German at Birkbeck College and honorary president of the Theodor Fontane Society in Germany, has died aged 94. ( Independent )

Higher education items in the Sunday papers
- The middle classes will carry the weight of university top-up fees ( Sunday Times )
- Brown backers attack No 10 on HE vote ( Observer )
- It's easy to justify dustmen, and the rest of us, paying for doctors' education, but what about poets'? ( Observer )
- How you can help your child to get on top of top-up fees ( Observer )
Degree frauds hit new heights ( Observer )
- Blair faces new top-up fee fight as rebels and critics plan to derail bill at next stage ( Sunday Express )
- Students pick hometown universities to save cash ( Sunday Express )
- The £900 million cost of students from the European Union ( Sunday Telegraph )
- Wolverhampton lecturer under fire as class is shown porn video ( Mail on Sunday )

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