Today's news

September 14, 2004

Radical shake-up in A-level entry to college
Pupils will not apply to university until they have received their A-level results under plans announced yesterday by Charles Clarke, the Education Secretary. In the most radical change to university admissions for more than 50 years, the system of offering places on the basis of applicants' predicted grades will be scrapped. Evidence published yesterday by the Schwartz committee on fair admissions to higher education suggested that half the predictions teachers made were inaccurate, depriving students of a place at the university to which they were best suited. Sir Alan Wilson, the senior civil servant responsible for higher education, is to set up an implementation group and advise Mr Clarke on the arrangements and appropriate timescale for the introduction of post-qualification application, which is expected within three years. Pupils are likely to take A-levels a month earlier. The exam boards have shown they can cut at least two weeks off the present eight-week marking period and universities may be asked to delay the start of term.
Daily Telegraph

Students critical of Schwartz report
Today's government review calling for a shake-up of university admissions was welcomed by university heads but condemned by students as a "missed opportunity" that would raise more hurdles to higher education. The National Union of Students said it was disappointed that the Schwartz review was recommending additional American-style tests, which would favour those who could afford coaching, and continued to focus on A-levels. Its plea for an independent body to monitor what universities were doing was ignored.

- Students 'should be judged on background'. Daily Telegraph
- Students must make the grade to end the degree rush. Times
- Colleges told to favour minority students. Independent
- Universities ‘should select for diversity’. Financial Times
- Call for end to A-level forecasts. Financial Times
- Ending the middle-class hold on universities. Guardian
- Dons told to put ‘diversity’ before A-levels in push for poor students. Daily Mail
- My university admissions revolution: interview with Steven Schwartz. Guardian
- Steven Schwartz: the New Yorker who went into bat for the Aborigines. Daily Mail

Graduates helped to start businesses
Gordon Brown chided graduates for lacking enterprise yesterday at the launch of a new body to help them start businesses within five years of leaving university. The chancellor said as he introduced the National Council for Graduate Entrepreneurship that young entrepreneurs here trailed their overseas counterparts. The council has received £400,000 funding from the Department of Trade and Industry and the Department for Education and Skills and will try to co-ordinate the work of other bodies, particularly universities, to improve their teaching of enterprise. Ian Robertson, the chief executive of the independent company, said the council would be more than just a talking shop.
Financial Times

Where do HE ministers go to die?
Alan Johnson's non-graduate status didn't stop him getting on famously with vice-chancellors, who are still marvelling at the fact that he not only piloted the most controversial legislation of the Blair government through parliament but was actually promoted after being higher education minister. Some, such as Tessa Blackstone, have moved on sideways but most have found the job to be the kiss of death to their careers.

Scientists swoon over dinosaur's hips
Researchers from the University of Portsmouth have christened a two-metre long, slender-legged dinosaur found in Brazil Mirischia asymetrica , which means "wonderful pelvis with subtle differences". Mirischia is a species hitherto unknown to science. The scientists report in Historical Biology journal.

The right formula
A look at the priorities of the funding councils and the factors crucial to winning a slice of the £1.3 billion available in the UK for postgraduate research.

Cut to the core
Investigation of the effects on teacher training of the concentration of educational research in just a few institutions.

Fame academy
Report on a digital TV channel aiming to cash in on universities' wish to widen participation among the MTV generation.

Pennies from heaven
Sir Alec Jeffreys recalls how he stumbled upon the process he later dubbed genetic fingerprinting.

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