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

Call for tougher foreign student tests

R. Garner

The Independent, May 12th 2009, p. 11

The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) has said that universities must consider tougher checks on whether their international students can master English. An inquiry set up by the QAA in the wake of allegations that university standards were being 'dumber down' - largely as a result of pressure to do well in league tables - heard evidence that some foreign students had hired 'third part agents' to falsify their entry qualifications. In its report, the QAA has recommended a review of assessment practices to ensure greater consistency in degree classifications between universities as well as calling for a national debate on the amount of contact hours between students and academic staff in the wake of complaints from undergraduates that they were not getting 'value for money'.

Diverted funds leave arts courses facing cuts at top universities

P. Curtis

The Guardian, May 22nd 2009, p.4

Language departments at Oxford, Edinburgh and Bristol are among those facing cuts because Government funding has been diverted from the arts to science subjects.

Exposed, the third class degrees

I. Johnston

Daily Telegraph, May 18th 2009, p. 11

The National Student Survey of 200,000 people and 2,200 university degree courses has brought to light complaints about large classes, reduced teaching time and the use of postgraduate students as a cheap form of teaching.

Gender balance in leadership? Reform and modernization in the UK further education sector

D. McTavish and K. Miller

Educational Management Administration & Leadership, vol. 37, p. 350-365

The further education sector employs a high proportion of women yet relatively few women progress into leadership positions. This article seeks to provide explanations for this gender imbalance and argues that despite change and modernisation initiatives, this sector remains gendered in many aspects of leadership, governance and managerial practices. The paper concludes that while change has increased opportunities for many women, masculinised managerial practices have led, in many instances, to the re-gendering of organisational practices with unequal gender impacts.

Impressive personal statement - pity that Cambridge doesn't believe you

A. Frean

The Times, May 18th 2009, p.4

The University of Cambridge has admitted that it does not pay attention to the personal statements of applicants during the university application process. The admission comes following concern at the availability of personal statements to plagiarise or buy over the internet. In a survey of 50,000 application two years ago, 234 medical school applicants all began their statement with the same anecdote about setting fire to their pyjamas at the age of 8. Cambridge has indicated that it uses the statement as the basis for discussion during interview, but uses GCSE grades and predicted grades as their main way of assessing applications.

Let universities design new A levels, Tories say

P. Curtis

The Guardian, May 21st 2009, p.2

Universities argue that the high number of A grades awarded at A level make it impossible to determine accurately the brightest students. At the same time, there are complaints by lecturers that students increasingly expect to be 'spoon fed' at degree level and are incapable of taking control of their own learning. David Willets, the shadow secretary of state for higher education, has suggested that Universities themselves should lead an overhaul of the A level exam system. Cambridge have already led the way by introducing the Pre-U exams, an alternative to A levels.

Thousands of university jobs to go in 150m cuts

J. Sherman & A. Frean

The Times, May 7th 2009, p.19

John Denham, the Skills Secretary, will warn university and further education chiefs that they will have to find savings of 300 million as a result of Alistair Darling's decision to cut public spending next year by 5 billion. It is expected that universities will shed thousands of jobs and cut spending on teaching equipment in order to reduce spending. Vice-chancellors are said to be 'reeling' at the enforced budget cuts.

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