Today's news

December 15, 2005

Vice-chancellors bemoan drop in foreign students
Universities face a financial crisis and possible job cuts after a decline in the number of foreign students studying in the UK, leading academics said last night. A survey of vice-chancellors revealed that four out of five universities have seen a drop in the number of overseas students - and their fees - in the past 12 months, and more than half admit this will have serious financial consequences. A report in today's Times Higher Education Supplement claims leaked figures show a 5 per cent fall in overall applications, with many students from England and Wales put off by the £3,000 tuition fee.
The Guardian, The Times Higher Education Supplement (Dec 16)

Oxford caves in on state selection
Oxford colleges are to lose their 800-year-old right to select undergraduates in response to Government pressure to admit more students from state schools and lower social classes. Instead, admissions will be centralised to encourage applications from comprehensive pupils, who find the present arrangements "confusing and opaque", the university said yesterday. Pupils will apply to the university, not a specific college, and will be interviewed and selected by the appropriate department, not by their potential tutors. The university admitted that as a result, colleges will lose autonomy and individuality.
The Daily Telegraph, The Guardian, The Financial Times, The Times , The Times Higher Education Supplement   (Dec 16)

Wellcome boost for open access
Three major publishers of scientific research, including Oxford University Press, will today announce a deal with The Wellcome Trust, the world's second largest charitable funder of medical research after Bill Gates, that will see thousands of research papers available free to everyone over the internet. The deal comes as MPs today hold a public debate about the future of scientific publishing in London's Westminster Hall. Last year the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee called for the results of scientific research funded by the British taxpayer to be made freely available to all on the web and asked the Government to help universities fund digital archives.
The Guardian

Funding threat to university research
Business funding of university research in the UK has stalled and universities will struggle to hold on to what they have as UK businesses fund more research in China and India, warns a report yesterday. The Council for Industry and Higher Education praises universities for their past successes in attracting research funding both in the UK and abroad, but flags up problems ahead as business moves its clinical and near-market research to the major growth markets of the world - notably the Far East.
The Guardian

Student debt plea
An EU-funded group is calling for the abolition of student debts for entrepreneurs. The Merseyside Entrepreneurship Commission says that students who run a business on Merseyside for three years after leaving university should not have to repay student loans. The commission also calls for a rationalisation of the many organisations and support agencies designed to help entrepreneurs.
The Times

Social status 'no barrier to university'
Nearly 100 per cent of young people who gain two A-levels or Highers go to university irrespective of their social background, reveals a report published today. The task is now to increase the number of pupils achieving five or more GCSEs and developing vocational qualifications that lead into higher education at different levels, says the study, From the Margins to the Mainstream: embedding widening participation in higher education.
The Guardian

Masked builders hide from animal activists
Builders working on a new research facility in Oxford are so afraid of reprisals from animal rights activists that they are wearing masks to hide their faces. Work has restarted on the laboratory after it was halted by threats from activists who say it will be used for primate research. Montpellier Group, the contractor, pulled out in July 2004 after shareholders were threatened but a new firm began work earlier this month. The builders, who work behind tall hoardings, are wearing ski masks after activists warned of consequences should their identities be discovered.
The Daily Telegraph

Durham to open new college
The University of Durham will next year open its first new college in the city for more than 30 years. Yesterday the university announced its 16th college would be named after Josephine Butler, the Northumberland-born writer, pioneer of women's education and social reformer.
The Guardian

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