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

Cambridge chiefs defend 'elitist' entry hurdles

N. Woolcock and J. Sugden

The Times, Mar. 17th 2009, p. 5

Geoff Parks, the director of admissions at the University of Cambridge has defended his decision to demand A* grades at A level from applicants in order to be considered for entry. Mr Parks suggested that an A grade at A level was no longer enough to differentiate the top end of the ability range. John Dunford, the general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders expressed concern about the decision which he suggested was premature given the recent introduction of the A* grade which means that the 'effect of the A* on the system is unknown'.

(See also The Guardian, Mar. 17th 2009, p.5)

Changing landscapes: future scenarios for variable tuition fees

Universities UK

2009

In this report accountants map out a series of eight 'scenarios' of what could happen as a result of the government's review of tuition fees. Twelve Vice-Chancellors were also interviewed for the study. It is concluded that tuition fees will have to rise to around 6,500 per year to maintain teaching standards at English institutions. However, such a rise would lead to students graduating with average debts of 32,000. It claims that students would not react against university if fees rose to 5,000 a year, but might turn their backs on higher education if costs increased to 7,000.

Term-time employment and the student experience

P. Greenbank, S. Hepworth and J. Mercer

Education + Training, vol. 51, 2009, p. 43-55

The current research literature tends to emphasize the negative effects of term-time employment on higher education students' performance. However, term-time jobs can be beneficial and provide students with practical work experience, useful skills and cultural capital. Undergraduates unfortunately tend in practice to choose jobs on the basis of pay and convenience, rather than for the longer-term benefits that are likely to accrue to them in the graduate labour market.

Top Universities face cuts in research funding

P. Curtis and A. Lipsett

The Guardian, Mar. 5th, p. 6

The RAE 2008 results have had the effect of spreading funding to more Universities. A total of 53 Universities face cuts in their funding for research and teaching. The RAE has also highlighted a decline in research in science subjects and languages, while sports science and media studies are increasingly popular areas for research. The LSE is among the biggest losers - it faces a 13% cut in research funding.

Top universities lose cash in drive for poor students

G. Paton

Daily Telegraph, Mar. 5th 2009, p.8

A record 400m will be spent next year on encouraging students from poor backgrounds to attend university. Most of the recruitment funding will go to former polytechnics, which are more likely to target working-class sixth formers. At the same time elite institutions such as Imperial College and the London School of Economics will have their research funding cut.

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