Today's news

January 22, 2004


Israeli branch of UK university issued bogus degrees
The University of Humberside is under police investigation in Israel over a multimillion-pound fake degrees scam. It is alleged that 5,500 people paid for fictitious qualifications. Four managers of the university's operation in Israel have been arrested and the country’s fraud squad officers said yesterday that at least one member of staff in Britain was involved. Up to 350 teachers suspected of receiving the bogus BA and MA qualifications face suspension or dismissal. The university ended its Israeli enrolment programme in July 1999, when concerns were voiced about the validity of the degrees.
( Times, Daily Telegraph )

£1,000 offer to physics students
Students are to be offered a £1,000-a-year inducement to study physics once tuition fees rise to £3,000, the Institute of Physics announced yesterday. The grant, the first to be linked specifically to a subject, will be means-tested and those whose parents earn less than about £22,000 a year will receive it in full. Imperial College, London, said it would be offering means-tested scholarships worth £4,000 a year to the poorest 30 per cent of students on condition they secured three As at A-level.
( Daily Telegraph, Times, Independent )

Rebels have votes to rout tuition fees
Tony Blair was warned by government whips yesterday that rebel Labour MPs still have enough votes to defeat his university tuition top-up fee proposals. Six days away from the crucial Commons vote on the higher education bill, ministers admitted they were not yet confident of victory.
( Daily Telegraph )

Top-up fees have not helped access, rebels insist
Top-up fees have failed to improve access to university for poor students in countries where the charge has already been introduced, Labour rebels claimed yesterday. Paul Farrelly, one of the leaders of the Labour rebellion, accused ministers of distorting the evidence, claiming that variable fees in the US, Canada and Australia had at best made no impact on the number of students from low-income backgrounds entering higher education.
( Independent )

Ulster Unionists to vote against fees
The five Ulster Unionist MPs at Westminster decided yesterday that they would vote against the higher education bill. All the Northern Irish parties and the Scottish and Welsh nationalists now intend to vote against the government.
( Financial Times )

Labour rebels told their seats are at risk
David Blunkett has given an outspoken warning to Labour MPs that they are risking their chances of re-election if they vote against Tony Blair on university tuition fees next week. Mr Blunkett, who has already hit out at "grandstanding" ex-ministers causing trouble for Mr Blair, said it was time for some very straight talking.
( Times )

Tories reveal plan to privatise universities
The Conservatives are planning to privatise Britain's universities within 15 to 20 years as the central plank of their long-term alternative to top-up fees. In contrast to its previous policy, the party says it now recognises the £10 billion higher education funding crisis and is conducting a review - to be completed by the end of the year - to resolve it.
( Guardian )

Overseas student numbers jump 23%
The number of non-EU international students entering higher education rose by a record 23 per cent last year, with the intake from China and India up by 80 per cent, figures from the Higher Education Statistics Agency reveal. Some 174,575 overseas students were studying in the UK in 2002-03. Foreign students account for more than 33 per cent of the rise in university places.
( Times, Financial Times )

Bomb joke student let out on bail
British student Samantha Marson who was arrested after joking about having bombs in her rucksack at Miami airport said yesterday she was very sorry. She faces a possible prison sentence of 15 years for making a false bomb report, and was released on $5,000 (£2,700) bail yesterday after four days in jail in Miami.
( Times, Guardian, Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph, Independent )

Eggheads unravel chopstick secrets
Two physicists from the University of Surrey have devised a formula to coincide with the Chinese new year that can help to measure chopstick technique. Some three out of five people in Britain have trouble eating with the implements. The secret is practice, the scientists say.
( Guardian, Times )

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