Today's news

January 5, 2004

Back top-up fees or lose safety net for poor, MPs told
Ministers will warn rebel Labour MPs this week that they must accept proposals for university top-up fees or risk losing a large new package of help for poorer students. A £1,200 fees-remission will now be added to the upfront £1,000 grant in recognition that poorer students need extra financial help while they are at university rather than later on. In addition, the poorest students will qualify for an extra £800 from a national bursary scheme. The former Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey, who is chancellor of the University of Gloucestershire, added his voice to criticism yesterday, saying that he would prefer the government to lead from a philosophy of socialism, rather than offering economic arguments.
( Times, Guardian, Independent, Financial Times )
Comment: at the heart of the tuition fees debacle is this government's chronic inability to keep its hands off anything. ( Daily Mail )

Oxbridge transforms bursars into businessmen
Bursars at Oxford and Cambridge universities are being sent on courses at banks in the City of London in an attempt to boost college revenues in the face of growing financial problems. The effort to change the image of bursars from genteel, other-worldly figures to that of professionally minded businessmen is partly to appease sceptics in the Treasury who have questioned the quality of financial management at the oldest universities. It also comes as some of the most venerable colleges are struggling to stay solvent.
( Times )

Still jobs for the boys after 30 years
Fewer than 10 per cent of the most senior jobs in public life are held by women, despite the passing of sex discrimination laws almost 30 years ago. A survey by the Equal Opportunities Commission shows that women are still massively under-represented in positions of influence in business, the police, media and senior judiciary even though more females are working than ever before.
( Guardian, Times )

Mounting concern as sperm count falls
Sperm counts among British men have plummeted over the last decade, say researchers from the Aberdeen Fertility Centre. The largest study of its kind shows a drop of almost one-third in average sperm counts, mirroring a disturbing trend in other Western countries and reinforcing concerns over male fertility.
( Daily Mail, Times, Guardian, Independent )

Higher education items in the weekend press

  • Student debt to be written off after 25 years (Sunday Times)
  • Blunkett says that opposing proposed legislation on university funding is misguided (Sunday Times)
  • Top-up fee rebels win sweeteners (Observer)
  • Tim Collins MP explains why he thinks top-up fees should be killed off (Independent on Sunday)
  • Students can pay fees upfront, says Clarke (Independent, January 3)
  • Help for poorer students could end revolt (Financial Times, January 3)
  • New fees will not save cash, say Tories (Daily Telegraph, Guardian, January 3)

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