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

Big number brings students back to maths

A. Frean

The Times, Oct. 22nd 2008, p. 20

Data from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) shows that the number of undergraduates studying maths, physics, chemistry and engineering has risen after years of decline. HEFCE are halfway through a 350 million programme to revitalise subjects deemed to be of key economic importance.

(See also The Independent, Oct. 22nd 2008, p. 8)

Grants for middle-income students cut after blunder

P. Curtis

The Guardian, Oct. 30th 2008, p. 4

Ministers have been forced to cut grants for students from middle-income homes and scale back plans to expand student numbers after a government blunder left a 200m black hole in the universities budget. Some 40,000 fewer students will be eligible for partial grants and there will be 5,000 fewer places than expected next year after the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills underestimated an increase in demand.

(See also The Times, Oct. 30th 2008, p.11)

Oxford chancellor says cap on student tuition fees must go

P. Curtis

The Guardian, Oct. 1st 2008, p. 9

Lord Patten, the chancellor of Oxford and Newcastle universities, has urged the government to remove the 'intolerably low' 3,140 cap on student fees. Patten is calling for middle class parents to be prepared to spend more on their children's university education, which would pave the way for potential mortgage-level graduate debts of 50,000 or more for some courses at top universities.

(See also Financial Times, Oct. 2nd 2008, p. 5)

Poor students get interview pledge

G. Paton

Daily Telegraph, Sept. 24th 2008, p. 6

Leading universities will guarantee interviews to bright applicants from poor homes under government plans to broaden their social mix. Nine of Britain's top institutions will also share information on working-class applicants to increase their chances of getting a place. This could mean a deprived student rejected by one university being recommended for a place at another.

Preparing for the future: applied and vocational science provision at an intermediate level in further education colleges

New Engineering Foundation

London: 2008

Popular culture and addiction to TV dramas are leading students to ignore traditional science and engineering courses in favour of trendy subjects such as sports and media studies and even hairdressing. The report cites the example of the TV drama series Crime Scene Investigation, which has apparently fuelled a rise in numbers of students enrolling for forensic science courses. This is leading to a shortage of skilled technicians.

Students to get 'report cards' with their degree certificates

G. Paton

Daily Telegraph, Oct 21st 2008, p. 6

Reports that amid fears that the system of awarding students first, second or third class degrees does not fairly reflect student ability, leading universities will be issuing Higher Education Achievement Reports alongside degree certificates from 2009. These achievement reports will contain the course dates, programme requirements, modules taken and an explanation of how courses were assessed. It will break down marks for each course unit and list the wider skills students may have attained. It may also include details of how they performed in course work, timed examinations and oral tests.

(See also Independent, Oct. 21st 2008, p. 5;Times, Oct. 21st 2006,p.21)

Universities are told to make it easier for pupils at poor schools to make the grade

N. Woolcock

The Times, Oct. 3rd 2008, p.21

The National Council for Educational Excellence has recommended that the performance of secondary schools be taken into account in the applications made by their students to universities. Rather than assessing the background of the students, universities should consider the context and performance of the school at which they studied. It is hoped that along with other measures this could help aid the access of bright students from less advantaged backgrounds to university and to raise aspirations more broadly.

(See also The Independent, Oct. 3rd 2008, p. 17)

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