Today's news

March 17, 2005

Universities provide £300m for poorer students
English universities are to give away £300 million a year in means-tested bursaries and scholarships in return for the right to charge students annual tuition fees of £3,000 from September next year. The Office for Fair Access published details yesterday of the agreements it had reached with 75 universities. All but four said they intended to charge the maximum permitted fee, dashing the Government's hopes of creating a competitive market in higher education.
The Daily Telegraph, The Times, The Guardian, The Financial Times, The Independent, Full List The Times Higher Education Supplement  March 18

Free bikes and computers for students
Universities will have a greater incentive to recruit European students over British youngsters as the market opens up in higher education, it emerged yesterday. From 2006, universities will have to provide 400,000 British students with maintenance grants worth more than £300 million, while Europeans will have to pay for their own living costs. As the British Government must foot the bill for the tuition fees of both British students and those from elsewhere in the European Union, the cost of each EU student to the university will be far less than that of their British counterparts.
The Times

Foolish fees?
Three universities and a number of higher education colleges have bucked the trend and decided to set their tuition fees at a sum lower than £3,000 a year. The decisions of Leeds Met, Greenwich and Thames Valley University (TVU) are brave, some would say foolhardy, because they appear to be acknowledging their relative weakness in the marketplace. TVU is setting a fee of £2,700, Greenwich £2,500 and Leeds Met £2,000. No one knows whether the three will thereby attract more students than other universities. The real marketplace is in bursaries. It will be interesting to see whether the three are able to gain some kind of public relations advantage.
The Independent

Exam failures given a lift by De Montfort
A university raised some first-year students' exam results to bring them up to the 40 per cent pass mark, it was revealed yesterday. External examiners criticised the upgrading of pharmacy degree students at De Montfort University, Leicester, as “improper”. In a letter to vice chancellor Philip Tasker, four examiners from the Subject Authority Board accused the university of increasing marks without their approval for two second-year papers by two per cent and four first-year modules from six to 14 per cent.
The Daily Mail, The Times Higher Education Supplement  March 18

College lecturers strike over pay
Hundreds of further education lecturers stopped work yesterday in protest over pay. Lecturers at 12 colleges in England have walked out and formed picket lines to protest over what they say is their college bosses' failure to honour a pay deal agreed nearly two years ago. Dozens of other colleges were also due to close but last minute talks with employers averted strike action. Ten colleges are threatening further action if their demands aren't met. Barry Lovejoy, the head of colleges at the lecturers' union Natfhe, who was today visiting picket lines at Sheffield, Rotherham and Bradford colleges, said: "This issue is not going to disappear because our members are determined and will remain committed to achieving their goal.
The Guardian

Hands across the Channel
Matthew Cooper, a 25-year-old from Colorado, wanted a Masters degree that would combine conflict and law in an international setting. Kent Law School had the answer - an LLM in international relations, with international law at its satellite campus in Brussels. "Its great to be in an environment with people from all over the world," he says. "My aim is to get a job in an NGO in a developing country, and this course, the only one of its kind, is the ideal preparation." The Brussels School of International Studies has been developing gradually during the past few years. It was set up by the university's politics department in 1998 and, shortly afterwards, the law school got involved.
The Independent

More mileage from an MBA
Taking an MBA is a slog. But for most students the challenge doesn’t end when they graduate. Back at work, obtaining the appropriate rewards and recognition, and finding an outlet for their new skills, can be just as tough. For many MBAs it is a career-long struggle. That’s why at Ford Motor Company a group of MBA graduates got together to form the Ford Association of MBAs (FAMBA). Established in January last year, FAMBA aims to make it easier for MBAs to make their mark at Ford. What started as an informal sharing of information between MBA students from different business schools, has grown into a global association with more than 200 members.
The Times

The drunken generation
It is a familiar story at campuses across Britain and does not help the delicate relationship between town and gown. "The use of pubs and dance venues by students has developed a group of commercial outlets that pander to the student population, in terms of the drink provided, food served and music played," says Ron Stone, a councillor and the one-time chair of Bristol City Council's licensing committee. With two universities in the same city, Bristol faces an influx of 40,000 to 70,000 people to the city centre every weekend. The resulting mess has necessitated the formation of a special early-morning cleaning squad at a cost last year of more than £60,000, says Stone.
The Independent

Human embryonic stem cells grown animal-free
One of the hurdles to using human embryonic stem cells to treat disease has been overcome. Three teams have managed to derive and grow the cells without using any animal cells that might contaminate them. The hope is that embryonic stem cells, the primitive cells in embryos from which all our tissues originate, can be grown into transplantable tissues for treating a multitude of disorders, from diabetes to osteoporosis. But until now it has been impossible to grow them without mouse "feeder cells" and animal-derived serum.
New Scientist

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