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Sector news, 24 - 28 September 2012

Gove's exam proposal is a botched job, inadequate for 21st-century education The Guardian, September 24, 2012

Former education secretary Estelle Morris says the issue over GCSE exams this summer has been a missed opportunity for radical reform, and suggests the exams should have been brought forward to the end of year 9 when the national curriculum finishes. She says the new proposals for the post-16 exam show all the signs of a policy drawn up by two parties that fundamentally disagree. The proposals are rooted in the past and show little understanding of the society that surrounds children growing up at the start of the 21st century, she argues.


Figures reveal deep inequalities between rich and poor universities The Guardian, September 24, 2012

The gap in income and resources between universities is even greater than that between public and state schools, this story claims. In 2010-11, gross income per full-time equivalent student ranged from £65,840 (Cambridge) to £7,050 (Edge Hill); the sector mean was £14,710. The 24 members of the Russell Group together own 52 per cent of the sector's total net assets. Roger Brown, professor of higher education policy at Liverpool Hope University, argues that the differences will soon become even greater as the government has reinforced the policy of research concentration through its decision in 2011 that there should be funding for research that was not judged to be “world-leading” or “internationally excellent” in the 2008 research assessment exercise. He suggests a good immediate step would be to use the existing quality assurance apparatus to ask all institutions charging more than £6,000 to show how the additional revenues are used to improve student education.


Poll suggests fear of debt is deterring poorest applicants Time Higher, September 27 2012

Fear of debt may be deterring large numbers of children from applying to university, a new study has suggested. An Ipsos Mori poll of more than 2,750 state school pupils found children from single-parent families are nearly three times as likely to say their family could not afford for them to be a student as those living in two-parent homes. In the survey commissioned by the Sutton trust older pupils were more like to cite worries over "getting into debt" as a reason for saying they are unlikely to continue into higher education, with 29 per cent of those in school Years 10 and 11 citing debt as a barrier compared with 10 per cent of those in Year 7. Sir Peter Lampl, chairman of the Sutton Trust, said: "The government should think again about its fees and loans package. There is increasing evidence that the new fees are seen as too high, particularly by those on modest means. Ministers should consider means testing fees, so that merit not money is the key consideration in a young person's decision."