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

Diversity, gender and widening participation in global higher education: a feminist perspective

M.E. David

International Studies in Sociology of Education, vol. 19, 2009, p. 1-17

This article provides an overview of global higher education focusing particularly on issues of diversity and gender, drawing on evidence from seven unique projects on widening participation in higher education. The issues are contextualised from a feminist perspective, within current global and national policy debates about extending fair access to, and participation within, higher education and the contestation about those debates on global higher education in the twenty-first century. Whilst there is clear evidence that participation in higher education has increased, especially for women, by contrast with traditional students defined as young, white, male and middle-class, this participation is neither equal nor fairly distributed. The author concludes there are systemic and systematic inequalities, but, that opportunities for critical and feminist pedagogies within the global academy have nevertheless increased and offer potential for the future of the twenty-first century global academy.

Education warning for UK as graduation rate stalls at 39%

P. Curtis

The Guardian, Sept. 9th 2009, p.8

Research by the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) shows Britain's graduation rate has stuck at 39% over the last seven years while 11 other countries have overtaken us. Britain now sends a smaller proportion of school-leavers to university than Slovakia, Ireland or Portugal, and its drop-out rate is higher than all other countries in the OECD except Italy, Mexico and Turkey.

Elite universities plan to cut British places if funding falls

A. Laing

Daily Telegraph, Sept. 21st 2009, p. 4

Britain's elite universities are planning to cut the number of undergraduate places they offer to native students in favour of higher paying foreign applicants if the government presses ahead with an expected 25% cut in funding.

Foundation degree students and their educational decision-making

P. Greenbank

Education + Training, vol. 51, 2009, p. 259-271

The purpose of this paper was to examine the decision-making process of students who had decided to study for a business-related foundation degree. The research involved interviewing 30 students who were currently completing or had recently completed such a course. The study found that the students had not adopted a rational/comprehensive approach when making their decision to study for a foundation degree and had only utilised limited sources of information, often relying on informally absorbed information and their intuition. The paper argues that these students need impartial 'hot' sources of advice that are easy to access. They should also be provided with the opportunity to critically evaluate their decision-making and should be encouraged to develop alternative, more comprehensive, approaches.

One degree no longer enough to get the best-paid careers

J. Sugden

The Times, Sept. 4th 2009, p.23

Graduates who go on to take a postgraduate qualification are more likely to get higher-paid and better jobs than their peers with a bachelor's degree. A survey of students who graduated in 2005 (carried out by the Higher Education Statistics Agency) found that those with postgraduate qualifications were more likely to be in a graduate level job three and a half years later. Universities report that the number of applications for postgraduate qualifications have increased this year as the pool of jobs available to graduates has significantly decreased.

Stronger together: businesses and universities in turbulent times

CBI Higher Education Task Force

London: Confederation of British Industry, 2009

After a year spent analysing university finances, the CBI's higher education taskforce recommends:

  • The 3,100-a-year cap on tuition fees should be lifted and universities should be allowed to charge up to 5,000-a-year.
  • Student loans, which are subsidised by the government at present, should be charged at commercial interest rates, significantly increasing student debt.
  • The threshold for grants should be lowered. At present, students from families earning up to 60,000 per year are eligible for a partial grant. The report says that this should be lowered to 38,000. Only students from families earning less than 17,910 should receive a full grant, down from the present 25,000. This measure would hit students from middle class families hardest.

Students can raise grades by just turning up to class

G. Paton

Daily Telegraph, Sept. 11th 2009, p. 8

Academics have admitted that students can boost their final grades by up to 10% through regular attendance at seminars and tutorials. It is alleged that institutions are taking increasingly desperate measures to prevent students from dropping out of courses in order to protect their funding levels.

Universities face a fight for cash and a check on increase in first-class degrees

N. Woolcock

The Times, Sept. 11th 2009, p.23

The annual conference of university vice-chancellors has proposed a review of university marking systems to ensure consistency. At the same time, the government has announced that it expects universities to provide prospective students with more information about the ways in which they will be assessed and their post-degree career prospects. David Lammy, the schools minister, addressed the conference and told the vice-chancellors that they would have to take greater responsibility for raising money, rather than relying on the taxpayer for funding.

The view from above

M. Hallsworth, A. White and D. Halpern

Public Finance, July 3rd-9th 2009, p. 20-21

The authors review the short life of the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS), created in June 2007 and merged into the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills in June 2009. It asks whether the creation of DIUS was worth the cost in money and disruption.

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