Today's news

January 30, 2004

Bonus for Grimsby helped to secure fees vote
Austin Mitchell, MP for Great Grimsby, revealed yesterday that he had traded his support for university top-up fees at the last minute for two favours for his constituency. Mr Mitchell, a maverick who once pledged to change his name to Austin Haddock to draw attention to the plight of local fishermen, refused to disclose the two favours. He told The Times Higher Education Supplement that he had voted "through gritted teeth and very miserably" for the bill but could not turn down the offers.
( Times, THES ) - THES subscribers can read the full story here .

Universities warned on entrance tests
Steven Schwartz, vice-chancellor of Brunel university and head of the government's taskforce on admissions, is to warn universities that they should stop designing their own entrance tests when he publishes his independent review into fair student selection reports in a few weeks' time. The interviews on which top institutions rely to distinguish between multiple, well-qualified applicants will also be criticised. Mr Schwartz fears such tests could proliferate. The cost and complication of sitting different tests could then deter applicants from poorer backgrounds.
( Financial Times )

Nursing students to be exempt from top-up fees
Universities are to be banned from charging top-up tuition fees of up to £3,000 a year for nursing and other health-related undergraduate degree courses. Student nurses whose flat-rate tuition fees are currently covered by the government will continue to be exempt under the proposed system of variable fees, due to come into force in 2006.
( Guardian )

Copyright chaos 'is barrier to research'
The lack of clarity about the ownership of intellectual property is a big barrier to research collaboration between universities and the private sector, claimed Richard Lambert, author of the Treasury's recent review of business-university collaboration. Mr Lambert told a Business in the Community conference at Lancaster University yesterday that there were "too many lawyers involved and too much time wasted" in trying to decide IP ownership in collaborations between industry and universities. The confusion increased the cost of research projects and prevented some deals being completed.
( Financial Times )

Students snub engineering and IT courses for media
Media studies and journalism saw a record 15.3 per cent increase in students in 2003, while the number of freshers in electric engineering and information systems fell by more than one in 10, the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service has said. Overall, 374,300 students began a full-time degree programme in autumn 2003, a 1.7 per cent increase on last year. Admission of women rose again more strongly than men, leading to an overall gap between the sexes of 12 per cent at first-year undergraduate level.
( Financial Times )

Rise in students as EU expands
The government is having to revise its estimated number of overseas students qualifying for free university places in September because of a surge in interest from Eastern European countries joining the EU in May. It had been thought that about 3,000 students from the ten new countries would qualify for undergraduate courses, on top of nearly 10,000 each year from existing members, but figures to be published in the spring are expected to show a significant increase.
( Daily Telegraph )

Cash windfall for Essex researchers
Researchers at Essex University have won a £120,000 Economic and Social Research Council grant to find out why on-line auction site eBay is so successful.
( Daily Mirror )

Letters : Animal used in biomedical research. ( Times )

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