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Welfare Reform on the Web (March 2009): Education - UK - higher

Cross-border provision of public services for Wales: further and higher education

Welsh Affairs Committee

London: TSO, 2009 (House of Commons papers, session 2008/09: HC 57)

The report examines the way in which cross-border issues affect the quality and delivery of further and higher education services in Wales. There are now significant differences between higher and further education policies in Wales and in England. Some learners need to cross the border to attend college, usually because of geographical convenience or to attend a specialist course which is not readily available on their own side of the border. Differences in spending priorities between Wales and England have led to a funding gap between the amount which higher education institutions in Wales receive compared to what they would receive if they were funded on the same basis as higher education institutions in England. The report recommends that the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills makes available a specific allocation of research funds to develop research capacity in economically deprived areas. This would enable more higher education institutions to gain a track record of success and so be able to compete more effectively for research funds from other sources. The report also recommends that the decision-making processes on each side of the border need to be more coordinated, more coherent and more transparent.

MPs attack top universities for failing to open doors to poorest students

P. Curtis

The Guardian, Feb. 26th 2009, p. 4

A Commons public accounts committee report has revealed that leading universities, including Oxford and Cambridge, are failing to tackle their elitist image by still catering overwhelmingly for more affluent students. Despite a 400m drive to encourage people from the poorest backgrounds to attend university, there has only been a marginal increase in applications from this sector.

Now it's British jobs for British graduates

A. Grice

The Independent, Feb. 4th 2009, p.1

The immigration minister, Phil Woolas has proposed tightening the points-based system for non-EU migrants who wish to enter the UK in order to protect jobs for the record number of British students due to graduate this year. The proposal has been under consideration for some weeks and the government insists that it is not a response to the strikes over the recruitment of foreign workers at the Lindsey oil refinery.

Polytechnics go back to the future with vocational degrees

L. Cockcroft

Daily Telegraph, Feb. 23rd 2009, p.10

Government believes that former polytechnics should stop trying to ape elite universities and return to their original role of providing vocational degrees to mainly working class students. Government will concentrate research funding on a handful of academically excellent institutions. (See also Daily Telegraph, Feb.25th 2009, p. 4)

Recession brings a scramble for university places

N. Woolcock

The Times, Feb. 16th 2009, p.15

New figures compiled by UCAS show almost an 8 per cent increase in applications for full-time university study. The recession and increased possibility of unemployment have been blamed for the recent surge in applications which is the largest increase in eight years. Wes Streeting, the president of the National Union of Students welcomed the increase in applications suggesting that it showed recognition of the value young people place on education and training. However, the increase in applications has come following a reduction in university places ordered by John Denham, the universities secretary, as well as a reduction in the parental income threshold for means-tested maintenance grants. Thus, more students are completing for fewer university places, with a reduced chance of receiving financial support.

(See also The Guardian, Feb. 16th 2009, p. 4)

Starting salaries for top graduates frozen

R. Garner

The Independent, Feb. 11th 2009, p. 5

According to a survey by the Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR), starting salaries for top graduates will be frozen for the first time and it also predicts that the number of job vacancies will fall by 5.4 per cent, the biggest drop for six years. Figures show graduates starting jobs this September are likely to earn an average of 25,000 per year, exactly the same starting figure as last autumn. Recruitment experts say this will be a bitter blow to the class of 2009, the first to graduate with debts as a result of the introduction of top-up fees of 3,000 per year. However, there are some encouraging signs, as vacancies in engineering and the public sector have risen.

(See also The Times, Feb 11th 2009, p.19)

White, middle-class families dominate top university places

J. Shepherd

The Guardian, Feb. 3rd 2009, p. 12

Despite millions of pounds being spent to encourage poor and moderately well off students to apply to university, new research has revealed that white, well-off middle class families still exert a stranglehold over places at top universities. Children from the most affluent quarter of families - characterised by research firm Caci as those owning two cars and a home with four bedrooms - account for 55% of students at prestigious universities.

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