Today's news

January 31, 2006

Students forced to sign 'I'll try harder' contracts
Oxford is to become the first university in Britain to protect itself from litigious students by introducing legally-binding contracts requiring them to attend lectures. Undergraduates will be told that they risk being in breach of contract if they fail to attend lectures and tutorials in a move certain to be copied by other universities, worried that the introduction of £3,000 annual tuition fees from next September will usher in an era of student litigation. They fear that the new charge will prompt a surge in complaints by students demanding better “value for money” from lecturers, backed up by threats of legal action for compensation. Universities also fear that, in the increasingly competitive academic world, they could be sued by students who blame poor results on failings at their university.
The Times

Higher education enrolment up two per cent
The total number of students in higher education rose by almost two per cent last year, according to figures published yesterday. The Higher Education Statistics Agency said the figure increased from 2,247,440 in 2003-04 to 2,287,540 in 2004-05, a 1.8 per cent rise. The agency admitted that a data error had resulted in a recorded 0.1 per cent drop in the number of first-year students taking courses at universities and higher education colleges, which masked an actual rise in numbers. Some 3,400 postgraduates were not recorded as first-year students by the Open University, which is the largest institution in terms of student numbers.
The Guardian

University of London rapped over degree quality
The University of London was yesterday sharply criticised by the Government's higher education watchdog for failing to monitor the quality of its degrees taken by 125,000 students. But the university has rejected the verdict of the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) and insisted its degrees are guaranteed by its member colleges, many of which, such as King's College or Royal Holloway, are universities in their own right. The QAA said it had broad confidence in the standard of degrees in all 20 member institutions of the University of London but expressed "limited confidence" in the oversight of degrees by the central university.
The Guardian, The Times Higner Education Supplement (Jan 13)

£50m new building for Strathclyde education faculty
The University of Strathclyde is to close its Jordanhill campus and move its education faculty to a new building on its main site. The Glasgow university said the cost of the new building, estimated to be £50 million, would make more financial sense in the long-term than redeveloping Jordanhill, despite the extra £6 million that needs to be raised for the move. The decision, made by the university court last week following recommendations from the estates steering group, was described by the principal, Andrew Hamnett, as "the most important strategic decision we have had to take for many years".
The Guardian, The Times Higner Education Supplement (Jan )

Student jobs market likely to stay buoyant
The jobs market for this year's crop of final-year university students is likely to remain buoyant, with employers expecting to take on 6 per cent more graduates than in 2005, according to a study published today. Starting salaries vary widely, with graduates in the City of London and legal profession being offered more than twice as much as those at the bottom end of the graduate pay scale. Some students have complained that while the job market for graduates, after declining in 2001, has generally been good, the number of top posts available has failed to keep pace with the overall rise in the student population.
The Financial Times, The Scotsman

Fishy tale of small fry that don't measure up
There are some fishy stories that even an angler couldn't make up: ichthyologists got into a flap yesterday over which fish really is the smallest of them all. The tiniest is 7.9 millimetre paedocypris progenetica which swims around acidic peat swamps in Sumatra, Dr Ralf Britz of the Natural History Museum, London, and colleagues were proud to report last week. Not so, an American professor countered yesterday. Photocorynus spiniceps is the real record holder and Dr Britz and the co-authors of a paper in the Proceedings of the Royal Society of London "failed to make note of work published last fall that describes sexually mature, male anglerfish measuring 6.2 mm to 7.4 mm in length."
The Daily Telegraph

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