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Welfare Reform on the Web (May 2008): Education - UK - higher

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S. Court

Public Finance, Apr. 11th-17th 2008, p. 24-26

Between 1997/98 and 2007/08 2.9bn was spent on getting more young people from disadvantaged backgrounds into higher education and preventing them from dropping out once they had started degree courses. At the same time the introduction of variable tuition fees discouraged young people from poor families from entering university for fear of running up crippling debts. Government's next effort to widen participation will be to build stronger links between schools and universities.

Complaints by university students show 25% increase

P. Curtis

The Guardian, April 10th 2008, p. 15

A 25% increase in official complaints against universities by students has been fuelled, in part, by lawyers actively seeking to represent students as part of the country's 'litigation culture'. Complaints have increased from 586 in 2006 to 734 in 2007, with more complaints received from international and postgraduate students.

(See also The Independent, April 10th 2008, p. 4, The Independent. Education & Careers Section, April 3rd 2008, p. 8)

Counting what is measured or measuring what counts? League tables and their impact on higher education institutions in England

Centre for Higher Education Research and Information, Open University and Hobsons Research

HEFCE, 2008 (Issues paper; 14)

This report analyses rankings produced by several newspapers, which rate universities on features including graduate job prospects, teaching quality and research. It found that the measures used in these league tables were largely determined by what data was available and not by 'clear definitions of quality'. Some of the measures did not accurately measure the qualities identified and the methods used to calculate the score for the league tables was not always transparent.

Every university's admissions policy to be scrutinised

P. Curtis

The Guardian, Apr. 8th 2008, p. 7

Under new plans revealed by the universities secretary, John Denham, every university will be required to submit details of its admissions policy for government scrutiny to reassure prospective students that their applications are being handled fairly. The Office for Fair Access will have powers to scrutinise university admissions policies on an annual basis and will be able to impose financial penalties if institutions are proved to have unfair policies.

(See also The Times, Apr. 9th 2008, p.11; Daily Telegraph, Apr. 9th 2008, p. 14)

Millionaires are urged to give cash to universities

A. Frean

The Times, Apr. 3rd 2008, p.22

John Denham, the universities secretary, has announced a new 200 million funding scheme for universities by which donations and funding offered by university alumni and other private sponsors will be matched by the Government in the form of cash or shares. The aim of the scheme is to raise more than 600 million for the higher education sector. There is concern, however, that those universities who are currently the best off will be the biggest beneficiaries of the new scheme.

(See also The Guardian, April 14th 2008, p. 2)

Minister defends two-year degrees

D. Turner

Financial Times, Apr. 15th 2008, p. 4

Bill Rammell, the universities minister, in an interview with the Financial Times, explains why the proposed new compressed degrees would be a good thing for students, universities and industry.

NUS drops its campaign to abolish tuition fees

P. Curtis and A. Lipsett

The Guardian, Apr. 4th 2008, p. 14

The newly elected NUS president, Wes Streetling, has announced that the National Union of Students has abandoned its campaign to abolish tuition fees, choosing instead to focus on stopping any further increases in current levels. The union has been split by the decision, with far left members disappointed by what they see as a final decline in student radicalism.

Student loan rates 'could soar'

T. Helm

Daily Telegraph, Apr. 3rd 2008, p. 4

A survey by the Higher Education Policy Institute suggested that students could face a substantial rise in tuition fees. Some universities want to charge 8,000 a year and ministers have promised a review in 2009. Raising the current 3,000 a year maximum could discourage students from poorer backgrounds.

(See also The Guardian, Apr. 3rd 2008, p. 4)

Traditional universities still hold sway over rivals

R. Garner

The Independent, Apr. 24 2008, p. 10

The university league tables published in the Complete University Guide by The Independent indicate continued differentiation in the higher education system. The highest places in the tables continue to be dominated by prestigious Russell Group Institutions 12 of which are in the top 20. Oxford is ranked at number one, with its close rival Cambridge taking second place.

University aspiration gap stays stubbornly wide, study says

P. Curtis

The Guardian, Apr. 7th 2008, p. 6

According to a report from the British Market Research Bureau, the government's drive to encourage students from the poorest backgrounds to attend university has failed to narrow the gap between the numbers of poorest and richest young people who want to apply. Though more children than ever say they want to go to university, there is still a 23 point percentage gap between the proportion of the wealthiest and poorest who have such aspirations.

University degrees are a waste of time the damning verdict of British students

S. Cassidy

The Independent, Apr. 10 2008, p. 4

The results of a 'student listening programme' study by the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills has revealed that undergraduates are concerned that the government's drive to raise the proportion of young people applying to university has undermined the value of their degrees. Students are concerned that they will be forced to undertake postgraduate study at further expense in order to compete effectively with the mass of the population holding undergraduate qualifications.

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