Today's news

September 22, 2005

New ratings will threaten unpopular courses
A new university ratings system will force unpopular courses to improve or close as students vote with their feet, Bill Rammell, higher education minister, said today. Speaking at the launch of an online service that will allow prospective students to look up information on what current students make of their courses and universities, Mr Rammell said it would help introduce market forces within the higher education market.
The Financial Times

Student drop-outs know something ministers don't
Today's official prediction that nearly a quarter of first-year students will fail to graduate from the university or college at which they enrolled shows that there is something terribly wrong with higher education in Britain. Many will blame the astonishingly high drop-out rate on the Government's introduction of tuition fees in the late 1990s. But that is by no means the whole story. A very high proportion of the 71,000 who are expected to give up before they finish their courses are among the 43 per cent of students who pay no fees. The reasons for their disillusion must be sought elsewhere. They are not hard to find.
The Daily Telegraph

State pupils suffer as private schools take university places
Top universities are rejecting more students from state schools in favour of rivals from the fee-paying sector, new figures showed yesterday. Sixteen of the nineteen universities in the Russell Group took a smaller proportion of entrants from state schools last year despite government pressure on them to admit more. The figures from the Higher Education Statistics Agency threw into reverse the trend towards greater admission of state school candidates by leading universities since Labour took office.
The Times

Cambridge university's radioactive fine
Cambridge University has been fined £16,000 by Ely magistrates for illegally disposing of radioactive waste. The university admitted five charges relating to the emission of gases from the Wolfson Brain Imaging Centre at Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge, between July and October 2003.
The Times

Survey reveals alienation felt by Muslim students
Muslim students feel isolated following the attacks of July 7 and the row over extremism on campus is further alienating them from university life, a survey showed today. Only 72 per cent of those polled said they would immediately tell the police if they discovered a Muslim friend was planning a terrorist attack. The Federation of Student Islamic Societies, which undertook the survey, said that this was testimony to the lack of trust between the Muslim community and the police.
The Guardian, The Times, The Daily Telegraph

University figures show sharp research divide
A story of research princes and paupers is told in today's figures from the Higher Education Statistics Agency - and the paupers seem to be working very hard to keep up. Today's performance indicators are an attempt to show value for money when it comes to research spending, though the compilers admit it can only show quantity rather than quality. They measure academics' productivity by showing how much extra money they bring in through grants from the research councils and other bodies or industrial contracts on top of the basic bread and butter money they receive from the funding councils in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph

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