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Welfare Reform on the Web (April 2010): Education - UK - higher

Call for universities to be able to charge tuition fees

R. Garner

The Independent, Mar. 9th 2010, p. 10 & 11

The body representing the country's 750 largest employers, the Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR) maintains that universities should be given the freedom to charge students whatever tuition fee they like. The AGR says that lifting the cap - currently 3,240 per year - is needed if standards are to be maintained in the wake of 518m of cuts being made by the Government.

The Customer First Programme: delivery of student finance

National Audit Office

London: TSO, 2010 (House of Commons papers, session 2009/10; HC296)

Reports that the Student Loans Company, which is responsible for an administrative muddle that left hundreds of thousands of undergraduates without cash in 2009, is expected to deal with twice as many applications for grants and loans in 2010 with little evidence that it can cope. In 2009, students faced months of delays in payments, with less than half of all applications fully processed by the start of the academic year. Applications arrived quicker than the Company could process them, and 241,000 were outstanding by early September. The Company received four million phone calls in September, but 87% went unanswered. The fiasco followed a government decision to give the company responsibility for processing applications for grants as well as loans. Previously, local authorities were responsible for grants. The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills was complicit in the fiasco after it underestimated the challenges of centralising the service. Ministers hoped to save 20m a year, but the Department failed to monitor the Company properly.

Degrees are devalued, say bosses

G. Paton

Daily Telegraph, Mar. 9th 2010, p. 2

The Association of Graduate Recruiters has alleged that the Labour government's drive to raise the numbers going to university has reduced standards in higher education. It claims that the expansion of university places has 'devalued the currency of a degree' and forced students onto courses lacking academic rigour. Moreover, targets to increase participation by students from poor backgrounds risk being met at the expense of academic standards.

Introduction of formal performance appraisal of academic staff: the management challenges associated with effective implementation

B.E. Egginton

Educational Management, Administration & Leadership, vol. 38, 2010, p. 119-133

Historically, higher educational institutions (HEIs) have been independent but in recent times the sector has been subject to increasing levels of scrutiny and regulation. These developments have signalled changes in human resources policy reflected in staff appraisal systems. This article describes the management challenges that established educational institutions now face under six key headings, with issues that range from the 'hard' (agreement on targets, clarification of structures) and the 'soft' (clash of ideologies and cultures). Proposals for improved implementation are suggested and two new models are presented.

Student fees cap must go, says Patten

G. Paton

Daily Telegraph, Mar. 17th 2010, p. 1

Lord Patten, Chancellor of Oxford University, has argued that the present cap on student tuition fees should be abolished in order to protect educational standards. This intervention by an influential figure will increase pressure on the government to raise the 3,225-a-year cap on university fees.

Universities challenged

Anon

Labour Research, Mar. 2010, p. 19-21

This article discusses the impact of the 915m cuts to public spending on higher education announced in 2009/10. University leaders and unions representing lecturers and support staff argue that the cuts will mean the loss of thousands of jobs, less student places, and fewer courses on offer. They will cause irreversible damage to the standing of UK higher education.

Universities challenged

R. Garner

The Independent, Mar. 18th 2010, p. 1 & 4

Figures show that more than 100 universities have had their budgets for 2010/11 slashed or frozen meaning that 6,000 fewer students will be enrolled in September 2010 in spite of the fact that applications have risen by 23 per cent.

(See also The Guardian, Mar. 18th 2010, p. 2)

Universities enrol record number of EU students

G. Paton

Daily Telegraph, Mar. 25th 2010, p. 14

A record 117,660 students from EU countries enrolled at UK universities in 2008/09. These students are directly competing with native applicants for a limited number of places. Competition is expected to be even stiffer in 2010/11 after a 23% surge in the total number of applicants. Demand from EU students is up by 33%.

We'll keep working on it, says Oxford, as more state pupils apply but fewer get in

N. Woolcock

The Times, Mar. 23rd 2010, p.14

A breakdown of data on all applicants and successful applicants to Oxford University shows that whilst there has been a rise in applications from state school students, there has been a decline in the numbers of these students getting places. Like other universities, Oxford has been under pressure to widen access to ensure that high-achieving students from state schools are not overlooked while preference is given to their privately educated peers. The director of undergraduate admissions at Oxford has said that outreach programmes to state school students are paying off in terms of applications, but added that there was 'more work to be done'.

(See also The Guardian, Mar, 23rd 2010, p. 4)

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