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

Average student debt now 4,500 per year

R. Garner

The Independent, Aug. 13th 2008, p. 2

Student debt levels have increased by almost twice the level of inflation during the past year, with those starting university this autumn expected to owe more than 20,000 by the time they graduate. A survey of more than 2,000 students at 136 campuses reveals a 9.6 per cent rise in debt levels with the average student accumulating 4,500 a year in arrears. First year student have the highest annual debt level at 5,563 per year and will have to pay off 17,500 by the time they graduate. The average debt across all years is 14,161.

Degrees in creative industries 'must be treated like science'

N. Woolcock

The Times, Aug. 18th 2008, p.8

Professor Ebdon, the Vice-Chancellor of Bedford University and the chairman of Million+, a group of new universities, has told The Times that degrees in the creative industries generate better returns than many traditional academic disciplines. He has suggested that given that the creative industries account for 7.3 per cent of the economy, degrees in the creative industries should be awarded status and funding comparable to that received by degrees in science and engineering.

Dramatic decline in foreign languages studied at university

R. Garner

The Independent, Aug. 19th 2008, p. 6

Evidence has emerged of a significant fall in the take-up of languages by students at universities. Figures show that German especially has plummeted, with only 610 students accepted on degree courses last year compared with 2,288 a decade ago. French is the second biggest casualty, with numbers dropping by a third from 5,655 to 3,700 in 10 years.

Parents allowed to take charge of university applications

P. Curtis

The Guardian, Aug. 20th 2008, p. 4

Parents have this year been granted the right to act on their children's behalf in the university admissions process. Following UCAS caving into pressure from pushy parents, 10 % of this year's applicants have ticked the box which allows a parent to act as their agent in the race for university places.

Universities: the grade 'A' problem

R. Garner

The Independent, Aug. 14th 2008, p. 1&2

At least one in 10 teenagers will achieve three straight A-grade passes this year, as more pupils than ever before receive top grades in their A-levels. The figures highlight the growing dilemma facing university admissions staff amidst claims of growing grade inflation following 26 consecutive years of rises in the A-level pass rate. Some admissions officers are now calling on more schools to adopt the International Baccalaureate which, they argue, makes it easier to differentiate between the brightest pupils.

(See also The Guardian, Aug. 14th 2008, p. 1&2)

University fees 'have not affected' student demand

R. Garner

The Independent, Aug. 12th 2008, p. 2

Research conducted for Universities UK - the body which represents vice-chancellors - has found that the introduction of top-up fees has had no effect on demand for student places. However, the findings also show there has been little change in the profile of the universities despite millions of pounds being spent by ministers on attempts to widen participation amongst disadvantaged groups.

Volunteer work could count towards a degree

A. Frean

The Times, Aug. 29th 2008, p. 3

Under a new credits system to be introduced next year, students who complete work placements or volunteer with a charity could earn marks towards their degree. Credits would be transferable between courses and institutions for students who change course or university.

Working to live: why university students balance full-time study and employment

V. Holmes

Education + Training, vol.50, 2008, p. 305-314

This study aimed to investigate why students work during their degree programme, what influences their choice of employment, and their perception of their ability to balance work and study. A questionnaire was completed by 42 first- and second-year students from a single degree programme. Within this group, 83% of students worked at some point during term. In total, 58% of students who worked did so to either cover, or contribute to, basic living costs. Students must now be considered as having dual roles, as both students and employees.

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