Today's news

March 29, 2004

Rebels in fresh bid to scupper tuition fees bill
Labour's education rebels, who have tabled an amendment to the higher education bill removing the principle of variable fees, were told last night that they would be "supping with the Devil" if they tried to defeat the government this week over student tuition fees by plotting with the Tories.
( Times, Independent, Financial Times, Daily Mail )

Tuition fee rebels get more concessions
Education secretary Charles Clarke will offer Labour backbenchers further concessions on the government's university top-up fees this week as part of a frantic effort by ministers to avoid a Commons defeat on Wednesday. The concessions include changing the bill to give MPs a greater chance of blocking an attempt by a future government to raise the top-up fee threshold above the proposed limit of £3,000 and strengthening the education secretary's powers if a university raises its fees above the £3,000 cap.
( Guardian )

Graduate glut devalues price of a degree
Research by the political economists Phillip Brown (Cardiff) and Anthony Hesketh (Lancaster), to be published this autumn by Oxford University Press as The Mismanagement of Talent , states that there will not be as many knowledge-economy jobs as ministers expect and that there are already too many graduates chasing an inevitably small set of elite employment opportunities. Instead of making opportunities available to all, the expansion of higher education has led many employers to "raise the barriers for entry" and reinforced an existing bias towards students from older, elite universities, they say.
( Times )

Sit vac, Oxford college. Poverty guaranteed
William Rees-Mogg laments the meagre stipends on offer to junior research fellows and lecturers at Oxford University and says that the higher education bill will do nothing to address the fact that academic salaries in Britain are not competitive either with academic salaries abroad or with non-academic salaries in Britain.
( Times )

Vocational A levels fail Ofsted test
An Ofsted report published today declares that vocational A levels introduced by the government are a failure. The investigation into the first two years of vocational A levels finds that they were neither popular nor well designed.
( Times. Independent, Financial Times )

Teachers support Sats for university entry
A Mori poll for the Sutton Trust showed yesterday that 55 per cent of secondary school teachers in England and Wales believed American-style Scholastic AptitudeTests would be a useful tool for university admissions tutors alongside A-level results.
( Independent )

Most teachers spurn baccalaureate plan
A survey of 450 secondary school teachers by the Sutton Trust reveals that 41 per cent of teachers oppose the introduction of a diploma to replace A levels by the end of the decade. Only 36 per cent are in favour.
( Times )

Historians attack BBC magazine transfer
Twelve leading historians, led by Richard Evans, professor of modern history at Cambridge, have launched a fierce attack on the BBC over its proposals to transfer the award-winning BBC History magazine to an outside publishing company. The corporation is intending to transfer its wildlife and history titles, along with their stablemate Music, from in-house production to Origin Publishing, a low-cost, low-staff company that prints titles such as Hair Ideas and The World of Cross Stitching , which BBC Worldwide has acquired.
( Independent )

Acrimonious Boat Race with a Light Blue hue
The University Boat Race plunged into controversy yesterday after a clash of oars left Oxford trailing the Cambridge crew, who cruised to a six-length victory. The BBC apologised last night after swearing from the Cambridge cox was picked up on a microphone during the race.
( Times, Independent, Daily Mail )

Nasa hails dawn of hypersonic jet era
A new era in high-speed flight dawned at the weekend after Nasa successfully tested the world's first hypersonic "scramjet". The X-43A reached a speed of 5,000mph during its 11-second test flight over the Pacific Ocean.
( Times, Daily Telegraph, Independent, Financial Times, Daily Mail )

Higher education items in the weekend press
- Universities split over fees bill. ( Observer )
- Universities should be independent and set fees according to market, says former master of Pembroke College, Oxford. ( Sunday Telegraph )
- A-level students are buying tailor-made essays to submit as exam coursework. ( Sunday Telegraph )
- How to juggle study and work. ( Guardian , March )
- Salford University is offering a postgraduate course aimed at management in the gambling industry. ( Guardian , March )
- Universities step up innoculation programmes as mumps cases rise. ( Guardian , March )
- Feature tracking four graduates in the first year of their careers. ( Guardian , March )

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