Today's news

April 21, 2005

University targets in jeopardy after student levels fall
The Labour Party's manifesto pledge for half of all young people to go to university by 2010 is in jeopardy after new figures showed the first drop in participation rates since the target was announced by Tony Blair. The proportion of 17- to 30-year-olds going to university fell by nearly one percentage point last year.
The Independent, The Times Higher Education Supplement (April 22)

Academics issue strike warning
Academics yesterday issued a strike threat to their universities as they revealed that 114 out of 120 universities have failed to adopt a year-old pay scheme designed to ensure fair pay for all university staff. The Association of University Teachers at its annual conference in Eastbourne voted to mount a campaign to "name and shame" those universities failing to introduce the pay deal.
The Guardian

The NUS officer, the PM's son, and a love affair that never was
A fax from Labour Party headquarters to a series of national newspaper editors by 7.30am on Monday suggested Ms Berger, quite apart from her passionately held stance on growing anti-Semitism, was in the news for misleading reasons. The terse three-line letter came not from the Labour hierarchy but from the Prime Minister's eldest son, Euan Blair. And rather than dealing with the thorny issues of racial intolerance, it addressed the slightly less lofty subject of Blair Jnr's love life. To be precise, the document sought to make clear that, contrary to reports, Euan was not romantically involved with Ms Berger. It said: "I want to make it clear that Luciana Berger is not, and has never been, my girlfriend."
The Independent

Not worth the academic paper it's written on
The high-brow manner of communication that passes for English among academics has long been gibberish to many on the outside, but maybe those on the inside haven't a clue either. Three students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology wrote a computer-generated research paper composed entirely of gibberish, and managed to get it accepted for use at an academic conference.
The Guardian

Students less confident of walking into good jobs under Blair
The proportion of final-year students at good universities who expect to walk straight into a graduate job has fallen by a third since Labour's first year in office, a survey published yesterday found. So gloomy are this year's finalists about their prospects in an overcrowded market that a quarter of them are planning to take a postgraduate degree, principally in the hope of making themselves more employable.
The Daily Telegraph, The Financial Times

Kennedy has student voters in his sights
Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy will target the student vote today with pledges to scrap university fees, boost grants and cut debt. Mr Kennedy will focus on his party’s opposition to top-up fees, accusing the Prime Minister of “reneging” on a promise not to introduce them. He will also promise to scrap the annual upfront tuition fee of £1,150, using the proceeds of a 50 per cent tax on people earning over £100,000 to meet the £5.8 billion cost.
The Scotsman

Prospect of higher fees for English at Scots unis
Controversial proposals allowing ministers to raise tuition fees in Scotland for students from south of the Border were passed by Parliament yesterday. The Scottish Executive said the power, in the Further and Higher Education (Scotland) Bill, would not open the door to English-style top-up fees being introduced. The bill was passed by 68 votes to 23 with 13 abstentions but the Tories and the SNP refused to back it.
The Scotsman

More graduates apply to join the police
Record numbers of students are applying for jobs in the police force in a trend said to driven by pessimism about the prospects of finding graduate jobs. A survey of more than 16,000 final-year students in universities found a 57 per cent increase in the numbers seeking jobs in the police force.
The Independent

Canada invites its overseas graduates to stay longer
Measures to attract more international students to Canada by allowing them to work off-campus and stay on for two years after graduation were announced by the country's Government this week. The bid to boost international student numbers from the present 50,000 to a possible 70,000 underlines the increasing competition faced by UK universities in the global market for English language degrees.
The Guardian

Letter
From the NUS National President on the proposed boycott of Israeli universities by the Association of University Teachers.
The Independent

Letter
Regarding admissions of pupils from state schools at Merton College, Oxford, in the 1960s.
The Independent

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