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

Good students, bad pupils: construction of 'aspiration', 'disadvantage', and social class in undergraduate-led widening participation work

Y. Taylor

Educational Review, vol.60, 2008, p. 155-168

Drives to increase participation in higher education exist in institutional initiatives in both 'new' and 'traditional' universities in the UK. Their targets are primarily local schools and pupils, and the term 'locals' appears to be used euphemistically to refer to working class people. This research explores undergraduate student involvement in widening participation initiatives at a traditional university, and the ways in which the students promote and market their university and higher education more generally. It seeks to examine the widening participation messages disseminated by students in their work with pupils and teachers, the ways in which these are taken up and/or resisted, and the interactions between the university students and the local school pupils.

Graduates face immediate bill for 2,000

L. Davidson

The Times, May 27th 2008, p. 25

The Scottish Government has decided to scrap a one-off fee payment of 2,289 for current students but has demanded that postgraduates who have already incurred the charge but have not yet paid, must do so immediately. Student leaders have reacted angrily at the enforced payment which will affect 3,000 postgraduate students.

The middle class and women do best at university

A. Bloxham

Daily Telegraph, May 27th 2008, p. 12

A study conducted by the Higher Education Statistics Agency looked at the results of more than 300,000 students on 120 campuses. It found that 40% of degrees awarded to students from the top social classes were graded 2:1 or first class. These classes represent 33% of the population, but account for 66% of students gaining a 2:1 or a first. The research also found that 59% of 2:1 and first class degrees went to women.

Oxford is an elite university, not an elitist one

J. Hood

Daily Telegraph, May 6th 2008, p. 20

Oxford University wants to attract the brightest students regardless of social background. It is spending about 2m a year on programmes designed to broaden participation and is putting 6m a year into an undergraduate bursary scheme for poor students. It is also seeking to work with teachers to persuade them to encourage their pupils to apply to Oxford.

Push for poor students 'threatens standards'

G. Paton

Daily Telegraph, May 15th 2008, p. 10

An internal report by officials at Manchester University casts doubt on the benefits of widening participation in higher education. It argues that the University may have to lower entry requirements to increase the intake of working class students, leading to reputational damage.

Saudi prince gives universities 16m for study of Islam

R. Garner

The Independent, May 8th 2008, p. 19

Cambridge and Edinburgh universities will share a 16m endowment from Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Abdulaziz al-Saud, a member of the Saudi Arabian royal family and chairman of the Kingdom Foundation a charitable and philanthropic foundation set up to alleviate suffering around the world. Both universities, members of the 20-strong Russell Group, which represents the leading research institutions, will set up study centres with the aim of fostering better understanding between the Muslim world and the West.

Should higher education course materials be free to all?

L. Pollak

Public Policy Research, vol.15, Mar.-May 2008, p. 36-41

The University of California at Berkeley and Massachusetts Institute of Technology have recently made lecture notes and course materials freely available to all over the Internet. The author calls on the British government to respond by:

  • Establishing a centralised hub of diverse British open courseware offerings at the free domain , accessible to teachers, students and the general public.
  • Establishing the right and capacity for non-students to take the same examinations as enrolled students, through the provision of open access examination sessions
  • Passing an Open Access Act, establishing a new class of open degree, achieved solely using open courseware.

Students were told to lie to boost college's rank in government poll


The Times, May 14th 2008, p.11

Two lecturers at Kingston University have been criticised for urging students to provide inaccurate feedback to the National Student Survey. The lecturers are reported to have told students to provide positive feedback on their University to ensure that their degrees were regarded as valuable by employers.

Universities 'pricing out' foreign students

N. Woolcock

The Times, May 22nd 2008, p. 25

Research published by the Higher Education Policy Institute indicates that fees paid by international students now account for 8 per cent of the income of higher education institutions in the UK. The reputation of British universities makes them attractive to foreign students while, at the same time, increasing fees and the increasing cost of living have the potential to deter applications. The report suggests that, given the reliance of universities on income from these students, they cannot afford to be complacent about attracting and retaining them.

The urban student and higher education in the UK

V. Koshy, R. Casey and A. Taylor

Gifted Education International, vol.24, 2008, p. 5-19

Participation by students from poor families in higher education in Britain remains low, and is a continuing concern for the government. The research reported here involved the design and evaluation of a four year intervention programme delivered by a university team and aimed at raising the academic achievement and aspirations of a group of teenagers (12-16 years of age) drawn from inner London state schools operating in deprived areas. This article describes the content and delivery of the programme and presents data relating to changes in aspirations, attitudes and outlook as well as some indictors of performance in national tests.

Well-off children born brighter, says academic

G. Paton

Daily Telegraph, May 22nd 2008, p. 12

The UK government has asserted that elite universities are unfairly excluding applicants from low-income families and privileging those from higher social classes. However, Bruce Charlton, reader in evolutionary psychology at Newcastle University, has caused outrage by claiming higher social classes have a significantly higher average IQ than lower social classes. The large number of middle class students at elite universities is a natural outcome of meritocracy rather than the result of skewed admissions policies.

Withdrawal of funding for equivalent or lower level qualifications (ELQs)

Innovation, Universities, Science and Skills Committee

London: TSO, 2008 (House of Commons Papers session 2007-08; HC 187)

In September 2007, the Government announced that it was withdrawing state funding paid to higher education institutions to subsidise the fees of ELQ students, that is those studying for a qualification at the same or lower level to one they already held; this meant a potential increase in tuition fees of 200% for students starting a second degree in 2008-09. Nearly all submissions received were opposed to the changes and the Committee concluded that the decision to cut funding for ELQ students was unjustified and that the transitional arrangements and exemptions were both inadequate and inconsistent. In addition, the Committee was of the view that the change would have been better left until the independent review of variable fees due in 2009.

Why physics beats drama

L. Lighfoot

The Independent. Education & Careers section, May 1 2008, p. 9

Star pupils predicted to get three or more A-grades at A-level have found themselves rejected by leading universities, not on their lack of qualification but because of their subject choices. In 2006 Cambridge, quickly followed by the London School of Economics, published a list of 20 'soft' A-level subjects it regarded as poor preparation for its courses. Other universities have continued to claim that they do not discriminate against certain subjects but, according to schools, leading universities favour traditional 'hard' A-levels, such as history, physics and Latin.

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