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Sector news, 2 - 6 April 2012

Universities express fears about Gove plan for lecturer-set A-levels The Guardian, 3 April 2012

Universities, headteachers and examiners have said they are concerned about the coalition government’s plan to ask lecturers to set A-level exams in two years' time, saying that the system is "not broken". Education secretary Michael Gove wrote to qualifications watchdog Ofqual to call for exam boards and ministers to “take a step back” from dictating the content of exams, and instead the 24 most academically competitive universities will be allowed to lead by setting questions and deciding what topics students will need to know. But million+, which represents 26 of the new universities, said setting exam questions was a harder task than was being suggested. The 1994 Group, which represents small, research-intensive universities, said a larger group of universities should be involved. The Russell Group said universities already had a lot to do, but would see what help they could give. The Association of School and College Leaders said A levels were not just to prepare teenagers for university.

 Sector shuts out external consultants in era of austerity Times Higher, 5 April 2012

Universities have cut back their spending on external consultants and are planning to slash the amount they spend next year by nearly a third, according to analysis by Times Higher Education. In 2010-11, institutions spent an average of £1.22 million on consultants, which will fall to £838,000 in 2011-12, according to those who gave the publication details of future budgets after Freedom of Information requests to 131 institutions.

In this week:

Panorama investigation into apprenticeships sparks sector-wide response