Update 13:30

December 3, 2002

Tomlinson: exams overhaul 'manageable'
The Tomlinson A levels inquiry today proposed sweeping changes to the exams - including universities delaying the start of term until the end of October so students can apply after they get their results. It also proposed decoupling A levels from AS-Levels and reducing the number of external tests in order to restore public confidence. Inquiry chairman Mike Tomlinson also urged greater use of graduate examiners and more investment in computer technology, including “digitising” students’ written answers and online exams. Before moving to a post-qualifications applications system, AS and A-Level results in August should be delayed by a week or two to ease time pressures during the summer, Mr Tomlinson said. He insisted this could be “manageable” for universities and the clearing system and “offset by the potential benefits”.

'Huge benefits' for church-state split
Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, has asked the constitution unit at the University of London to draw up a detailed blueprint for severing ties between the Church of England and the state. This would have “huge symbolic and practical benefits”, a draft of the document is said to state.

US Supreme Court to consider race policies
The United States Supreme Court is to decide by next June if it is legal for public universities to operate race-conscious admissions policies. In an attempt to clarify the law, the court will consider whether white applicants to the University of Michigan and its law school were unconstitutionally turned down because of their race. Many colleges have admissions policies that take race into account to encourage diversity, but opponents say that by admitting less qualified candidates from the non-white population, the policies are discriminatory. Americans for a Fair Chance, a consortium of legal organisations dedicated to affirmative action, argues that affirmative action is not simply a black issue, and that women, Hispanics, Asians and other groups have a stake in an issue that benefits the nation as a whole.

Go-ahead likely for Oxford leisure centre
Plans for a £2.5 million community leisure centre in Oxford may still go ahead despite Oxford Brookes University pulling out. The Vale of White Horse District Council pledged more than £1.2 million to build the joint venture at the Harcourt Hill campus in Botley, Oxford.

Medical school unveils prized exhibits
Edinburgh University has won artworks worth £250,000 for a permanent exhibition in its new medical school. A £100,000 tapestry measuring 200 square feet, designed by Alan Davie, was unveiled today in the school’s entrance hall. The work of almost 30 artists will be exhibited, including John Bellany, Victoria Crowe and Eduardo Paolozzi.    

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