Today's news

October 19, 2006

University entrant total down 15,000
A central plank of the Government's higher education reforms came under attack last night after it emerged that about 15,000 fewer students started university this year, after the introduction of tuition fees. Opposition MPs and student leaders said the provisional figures, released by the admission service Ucas, proved that the annual £3,000 fee, which was introduced in September, had deterred many people from studying. The Liberal Democrat education spokeswoman, Sarah Teather, said: "The evidence is now undeniable - top-up fees deter people from going to university. Ministers must reconsider this mistaken policy that has such a negative impact."
The Guardian, The Times, The Scotsman, The Independent

Universities urged to let in more C students
Universities are being urged to redouble their efforts to recruit more students from poor homes by reducing their A-level offers by more than 40 UCAS points, equivalent to a C grade instead of an A. The advice to admission tutors is contained in a report by Aimhigher, the government-funded body set up to widen access to higher education. It wants universities to have more access to information about the backgrounds and circumstances of a candidate so they can make lower offers to those in difficult circumstances or in poorly performing schools.
The Daily Telegraph, The Times Higher Education Supplement (Oct 20)

Scrap fees for science subjects, urges CBI
University tuition fees for science subjects should be scrapped to help tackle a growing crisis in information technology recruitment, a CBI report said today. A dearth of quality graduates in science, technology, engineering and mathematics subjects is forcing companies in the IT sector to hire more foreign workers in an effort to remain competitive with emerging rivals in India and other low-cost countries. The Building a Globally Competitive IT Services Industry report - published by the employers' group and LogicaCMG, the IT services company - calls on the Government to help produce more higher quality Stem graduates by cutting or eliminating their tuition fees and giving incentives to teachers to teach those subjects.
The Financial Times

Securing job is key to course choice
Students are choosing to take degrees in subjects that are more likely to secure them good jobs after graduation, the Ucas data suggests. There have been increases in students taking maths (up 2.7 per cent), chemistry (up 3.7 per cent), languages (up 2 per cent) and chemical engineering (up 8.8 per cent). Libby Steele, of the Royal Society of Chemistry, welcomed the findings. "The message has reached students and parents that a degree in chemistry is not only a route through to a rewarding career in the chemical sciences, but also a gateway to a whole range of other careers," she said.
The Independent

Interest from overseas slows
The growth in the number of overseas students arriving at UK universities almost ground to a halt this autumn with just over 300 more foreign undergraduates starting courses. A total of 45,363 foreign students enrolled at UK universities, compared with 45,058 last year. But this small rise hid drops in student numbers from countries such as China and Nigeria. The number of Chinese students fell by nearly 400 this year to 4,459, a drop of 8 per cent, and the number of Nigerians fell from 3,187 to 2,109 (34 per cent). Bill Rammell, the Higher Education minister, blamed an increasingly competitive market for the decline.
The Guardian

Foreign students begin looking outside America
The US is in danger of losing its status as the first choice destination of international students, according to a new report. The report, by the American Council on Education, an industry research group, said that while the country was still the most popular destination, other countries - namely Japan, France and Germany - were outpacing US growth in that market. Margaret Spellings, US education secretary, said she was "very concerned" about the report's findings.
The Financial Times

Scepticism greets European research centre plan
A contentious plan to help the European Union to compete with the US and Japan in cutting-edge research was met with scepticism yesterday by some countries and scientists. José Manuel Barroso, the European Commission president, proposed spending a total of €2.4billion (£1.6 billion) between 2008 and 2013 on a European Institute of Technology. The institute will be designed to break down barriers that separate research, education and business in the EU. Mr Barroso hopes the EIT would bolster the Union's ability to turn high-tech discoveries into money-spinning products.
The Financial Times

Darwin evolves on the internet
The accessibility of groundbreaking scientific works has taken an evolutionary step, as a project to put the works of Charles Darwin online was launched. The website www.darwin-online.org.uk will, by the bicentenary of Darwin’s birth in 2009, host 50,000 pages of searchable text and 40,000 images of original publications. Much of the material has come from the Darwin Archive, housed at Cambridge University, and the project is being overseen by John van Wyhe, a researcher in the history of science based at Christ’s College, Cambridge.
The Times, The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph

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