Update: 12:15

April 8, 2003

Clarke tells Oxbridge to shake off Brideshead image
Oxford and Cambridge universities need to shed their " Brideshead Revisited " image and make it clear they are open to people from all walks of life, education secretary Charles Clarke said today.
He was speaking as he published the government's plans for enforcing widening participation policies in return for being allowed to charge fees of up to £3,000 a year from 2006.

Universities required to sign Offa agreements
The Office for Fair Access will require universities to sign five-year "access agreements" before they can charge more than the current £1,100 a year maximum. Offa will have the power to fine universities or take away their right to charge higher fees. Universities will have to say how they will increase the value and amounts of bursaries and grants they offer to students from poor families and they will have to show they are encouraging state school pupils to consider applying. A-level grades would continue to be the "chief indicator" of achievement and potential, but Mr Clarke said there were also other ways of assessing whether people were likely to do well at university. Brunel University vice-chancellor Stephen Schwartz has been asked to draw up a report setting out "best practice" in this area. National Union of Students president Mandy Telford said: "We are delighted that universities will now employ a wide range of measures to ensure they are getting the very best students on the courses best suited to them. Unfortunately, the government only seems to have come up with this idea to placate fierce opposition to top-up fees."

EU pushes FP6 eastwards
The European Union has launched a €13 million (£9 million) scheme to encourage scientists in the 13 candidate countries to take part in the €17.5 billion sixth Framework programme.

University of Texas buys Watergate documents
Documents naming Watergate source "Deep Throat" have been excluded from the papers of Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein acquired by the University of Texas at Austin. The university paid the journalists $5 million for 75 boxes of notebooks, scraps of paper and photographs. Documents naming their sources will remain confidential until the sources' death.

Two US colleges lose accreditation
Two historically black institutions in the southern states of the United States have been stripped of their accreditation and will lose federal financial aid. Despite debts of $ million (£17.4 million), the 122-year-old Morris Brown College in Atlanta, Georgia, pledged to remain open and seek reaccreditation, but Mary Holmes College in Mississippi is likely to merge with another institution.

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