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

Bursaries lower at former polytechnics

P. Curtis

The Guardian, Sept. 18th 2008, p. 18

According to a report from the Higher Education Policy Institute students form low-income homes receive, on average, £1,000 a year less in bursaries if they attend a former polytechnic rather than a redbrick university.

Cambridge chief cries foul over push for state pupils

A. Frean

The Times, Sept. 10th 2008, p. 1

The Vice-Chancellor of Cambridge University has condemned government attempts to force elite universities to recruit more pupils from state schools and disadvantaged backgrounds. Alison Richard has attacked government 'meddling' and claims universities are not 'engines for promoting social justice'.

Minister wants to 'lower threshold for complaints' against universities

R. Garner

The Independent, Sept. 12th 2008, p. 12

The Government wants to make it easier for 'whistleblowers' to raise complaints about standards in universities. The move follows claims that senior university officials were putting pressure on lecturers to award more firsts and 2:1 degree passes to improve their showing in league tables as well as awarding degree passes to international students with little understanding of English because they could not afford to lose the income derived from overseas students.

Teaching in transnational higher education: enhancing learning for offshore international students

L. Dunn and M. Wallace (editors)

London: Routledge, 2008

Transnational higher education is an emerging area of scholarship. This book examines current trends and challenges that face students, teachers and institutions of higher education around the globe and takes an in-depth look at the various types of transnational education including institutions that have campuses abroad, teach specific courses abroad, and form partnerships with diverse institutions to teach jointly. The authors use interviews with students and teachers participating in transnational programs from a broad sampling including those in Zambia, China, and the United Arab Emirates.

Universities making lower offers to poorest students, study finds

P. Curtis

The Guardian, Sept. 30th 2008, p. 10

The government has identified 17 universities which are using controversial admissions practices to help students from the poorest homes enter university. According to research carried out by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (Hefce), the institutions, including some of the most competitive, tailor place offers for promising pupils from local state secondary schools.

Universities told they have a 'social justice' duty

G. Paton

Daily Telegraph, Sept. 12th 2008, p. 8

The Universities Secretary has said that elite institutions have a duty to promote social justice by recruiting more undergraduates from state schools and deprived backgrounds. He threatened that they would 'ultimately lose out' if they failed attract entrants from poor homes and dismissed fears that such a policy would undermine academic standards.

(See also Daily Telegraph, Sept. 18th 2008, p. 12)

University test to help poorer pupils 'favours middle class'

R. Garner

The Independent, Sept. 11th 2008, p. 18

A US-style intelligence test seen by government advisers as helping disadvantaged youngsters get into university actually favours white boys from grammar schools, research has found. A government enquiry recommended the use of American SATs - tests in maths, critical thinking and writing - as a means of improving the chances of young people from disadvantaged backgrounds secure a place at one of Britain's universities. But a team of researchers from the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) has now concluded that they have the opposite effect.

Variable tuition fees in England: assessing their impact on students and higher education institutions: a third report

N. Brown and B. Ramsden

Universities UK, 2008

Report shows that the introduction of variable tuition fees has not decreased demand for university places. Far from a downturn in student enrolments, the report found significant growth in both home and overseas applications, with the largest increase occurring among those living in England.

Widening participation in higher education

National Audit Office

London: TSO, 2008 (House of Commons papers session 2007-2008; HC 725)

This report examines the progress made by the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills, the Higher Education Funding Council for England, the Office for Fair Access and higher education institutions in England in widening participation in higher education. The Government's 2003 White Paper, The Future of Higher Education, included a commitment to help more people from under-represented groups, particularly those from lower socio-economic backgrounds, to successfully participate in higher education. This sits alongside a policy to increase participation of those aged 18 to 30 in higher education towards 50 per cent by 2010.

The following are the key conclusions and recommendations points identified in assessing progress in terms of widening participation:

  • data on student characteristics is not sufficiently complete or unambiguous to identify accurately the extent to which certain groups are under-represented in higher education
  • survey evidence has indicated which widening participation activities may be most effective but more rigorous evaluation of individual activities is required
  • too little is known about the widening participation activities and expenditure of institutions
  • the availability of higher education is limited in some locations, which may restrict opportunities for individuals from under-represented groups to participate
  • some individuals from under-represented groups can have limited access to higher education delivered in traditional ways
  • some students and potential students have limited understanding of the different types of financial support available to them.
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