Today's news

January 9, 2004

Accept bill as whole or not at all, Clarke warns MPs

Education secretary Charles Clarke warned Labour MPs yesterday that they could not adopt a "pick and mix" approach to the government's plans for university top-up fees. Many Labour MPs joined forces with the Tories to protest that the government was breaking its own manifesto commitment at the last general election not to introduce top-up fees. A range of concessions to help undergraduates from poorer backgrounds failed to placate opponents of proposals to allow universities to charge tuition fees of up to £3,000 a year from 2006.
( Daily Telegraph, Times )

Rebels stick to their guns as fees vote nears
Leaders of the Labour rebellion against top-up fees claimed last night that 120 MPs had vowed to vote against the government despite the extra help for poor students announced yesterday. This is 40 fewer then the 160 Labour MPs who signed a Commons motion critical of the policy, but still more than enough to sink the bill. But whips said that rebels were "falling away" and insisted that they were confident about keeping the mutiny below the 82 MPs needed to overturn Labour's absolute majority.
( Times, Guardian, Independent, Financial Times )

Maximum £3K charge 'will be set by all universities'
Every university will charge the maximum £3,000 top-up fee for courses, a leading university vice-chancellor said last night. Michael Driscoll, vice-chancellor of Middlesex University and chairman of the Coalition of Modern Universities, representing former polytechnics, said the government's rescue package for students from the poorest homes would give his members the green light to introduce the maximum fee. Both wings of Universities UK, representing university vice-chancellors, yesterday acknowledged: "If the Clarke roadshow is the only game in town, we'll have to have it."
( Independent )

Round-up of higher education bill coverage

  • Rebels stand firm despite concessions on fees
  • How charges will alter the face of education
  • Poorer students fear debt but think charges may focus minds
  • Robin Cook: Top-up fees are a gamble which can only harm the party and the prime Minister

  • Financial Times:
  • Defeat still looms for Blair on top-up fees
  • Top colleges give deal high marks
  • Concessions provide little comfort for critics
  • Blair no longer in control on two fronts
  • Model Australian scheme allows 25% rise in fees
  • Students fear more leavers at drop-out college

  • Guardian :
  • Top-up fee rebels vow to fight on
  • How the system will work: study now, pay later
  • Case study: Cambridge to aid poorer candidates
  • Simon Hoggart: Bodging of a botched job leaves mutineers seething
  • Bullish rebels predict bill will be defeated
  • Universities give mixed response

  • Times
  • Top-up fees concessions fail to buy off Labour rebels
  • Frosty rebels teach Clarke a cold lesson
  • Clarke tells rebels it's all or nothing on amended bill
  • Concessions greeted with derision by young sceptics
  • Middle classes to pay for improving universities
  • More graduates will see red over top-up bill
  • Peter Riddell: Top-up row puts Clarke at odds with his party

  • Daily Telegraph
  • Graduates will still be paying debt in their 30s
  • Students will owe £,000 at graduation
  • 'Accept it as a whole or not at all'
  • 'If this isn't passed, universities will take more from overseas'
  • When it comes to retreat, Clarke is not for turning

  • Daily Mail :
  • Graduates face a £50,000 debt

  • Cambridge trio beat £33,000 triple whammy
    Three sisters from Cornwall were celebrating yesterday after becoming the first triplets to be offered places at Cambridge University colleges. If Elizabeth, Helen and Kate Armstrong, 18, from Truro, get the required A-level grades, their parents will have to find £12,375 in tuition fees to pay for their degrees, starting in October this year. However, if they took up their conditional places when the government's proposed funding system is introduced in 2006, the sisters would have to pay £17,625 more - a total of £33,000 - as well as meeting all their living costs.
    ( Times, Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail )

    Decline and fall of a female bastion
    While St Hilda's has held out against men and remained Oxford's only all-women college, Durham University's St Mary's College has finally conceded defeat after 105 years and will admit men from next year.
    ( Independent )

    Top scientist attacks US over global warming
    Climate change is a more serious threat to the world than terrorism, David King, the government's chief scientist, writes in an article in today's Science magazine, attacking governments for doing too little to combat global warming. He singles out the United States for "refusing to countenance any remedial action now or in the future" to curb its own greenhouse gases, which are 20 per cent of the world's total, even though it has only 4 per cent of the population.
    ( Guardian, Independent )

    Scots accent 'too difficult for learning English'
    Whitehall officials have refused to allow a Russian woman to study English in Scotland, saying that she would not be able to understand the accent. They also implied that the application would have been considered more favourably had she applied to Oxford or Cambridge. The unnamed woman had applied to study English in Scotland as a short-term student on a 10-week course. A letter explaining why she had been refused entry to Britain questioned her assertion that her father would pay for the course and said that English language courses were available in Russia.
    ( Daily Telegraph, Guardian )

    Aspirin use linked to cancer cases
    Regular use of Aspirin may increase the risk of pancreatic cancer, a study in the United States has concluded. The results are a surprise because aspirin had previously been linked to a reduced risk of cancers of the rectum, stomach and oesophagus. It also has protective effects against heart disease and is therefore taken by many people every day. The new findings, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute , come from one of the longest-running studies in the US.
    ( Times, Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph, Guardian )

    Scientists find protein link to repeated miscarriages
    In a letter published in The Lancet the researchers from Monash University, Melbourne and the University of New South Wales, Sydney, say they have found a protein which plays an important part in the immune system and is produced in the placenta. It could be a potential factor in recurrent miscarriage, which affects 1-2 per cent of women.
    ( Independent )

    A Freudian theory proved
    Psychologists at the University of Oregon and Stanford University in California report in Science today that they have proved Sigmund Freud's repressed memory theory. What has always sounded like a contradiction in terms - that the brain can remember to forget - apparently does have a neurological basis.
    ( Guardian )

    Cancer fears spark call for nanoscience safety rules
    Regulations are needed to ensure that the products of industrial nanotechnology do not pose unexpected risks to human health, British scientists say. They called yesterday for safety protocols for industrial chemicals to be redrawn to consider the different properties that some materials have when manufactured as nanoparticles. Mike Horton, professor of medicine at University College London and co-director of the London Centre for Nanotechnology, said that the problem did not lie with nanoparticles designed for medical use, as these had to undergo the same toxicology tests as any new drug. Companies that are using nanoparticles for products as diverse as sunscreens, tennis rackets and strengthened steel cables, however, do not have to conduct any special toxicity assessments.
    ( Times, Guardian )

    German students paid to take long lie-in
    Eight German students are being paid to stay in bed for two months as part of an effort to discover why astronauts always suffer from cold hands and feet in space. Scientists at the Centre for Space Medicine at the Charité hospital in Berlin have hired them to lie in bed for eight weeks - the closest earthbound people can come to simulating weightlessness. Sitting up is strictly forbidden: even showers and meals must be taken in the prone position. Doctors are hoping to discover how the blood's circulation is affected by the space-like conditions.
    ( Guardian )

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