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Sector News, 03 - 07 May 2010

Two days to go and still no word on higher education. Education Guardian, 04 May 2010.

Opinion: Professor Steve Smith, president of Universities UK, and vice-chancellor of the University of Exeter.

The Universities UK president wonders when politicians will talk about universities.  He considers a conspiracy of silence where none of the three major parties will discuss what Professor Smith sees as one of the main money earning sectors of the UK.  There is disagreement amongst the parties about tuition fees and research and little in the way of guidance on foreign students.

 Non-academic 14 - 16 year olds to go to college.  Education Guardian, 04 May 2010.

 The paper considers the Liberal Democrat promise to send 14-16 year olds to college.  Just using college as a place to put pupils who misbehave will not work.  In order to ensure the greatest success, 14-16 year olds must want to be at college and have a career in mind.  They may also need segregating and not just ‘lumped in’ with other older students.  There are those in the school sector who argue that it is incorrect to ask children at 14 to make a considered choice about their future career.

Cash crisis puts squeeze on Cumbria.  Education Guardian, 04 May 2010.

The University of Cumbria is struggling with the £30m debt it has created in its mere three years of existence.  The University has sites at Carlisle, Penrith, Ambleside, Lancaster and London but has dropped its plans for a £70m flagship site in Carlisle.   Staffing is being reduced and courses being cut and the university library was closed some time ago.

Loss of philosophy at Middlesex raises fears for humanities. THE, 06 May 2010.

More on the fears that STEM subjects will reduce the amount of arts studied in HE.  Moves to phase out all teaching of philosophy at the University of Middlesex have created international condemnation.  Although the university blames low student take up for the decision, sources state that the decision is based on the drive to increase science, technology, engineering and maths.

See also "Arts and Humanities given reprieve at King’s, but strike may go ahead”, a comparable story where redundancies would have hit humanities hard.

Complaints as post-offer grade inflation leaves pupils without 2010 places.  THE, 06 May 2010.

De Montfort University has admitted to writing to a number of applicants to amend offers it has made setting tougher requirements for entry.  The university says that it is trying to balance cuts in funding with increased applications. The fact that prospective students have been offered a place already does not sit well with parents and Ucas.

Scientists talk up teaching but still fail to promote it.  THE, 06 May 2010.

Whilst scientists may feel that teaching is important, too many of them prefer to be in the lab rather than the lecture theatre.  Nature Education has just published a report which concludes that whilst scientists value education as much as research their decisions favour the latter.  In an interesting piece of research across 45 countries, the report says that 77 per cent of scientists rated teaching and research equally and only 7 per cent said that research takes precedence.  However, when asked to select a candidate for a role involving both duties, 48 per cent chose a star researcher with no significant teaching experience.

Features in this week’s THE:

"Unconventional thinkers or recklessly dangerous minds?” and "Without prejudice” are both articles on the denial of a link between HIV and Aids stated by Robert Duesberg who is estimated to have caused thousands of deaths by his statement.

"Hello Dolly”, a story about the creation of the first clone of an adult animal.

"A trace of greatness”, explores why academics are so ‘welded’ to their genealogies.

20% leave school ‘functionally illiterate and innumerate’. TES, 07 May2010.

A Sheffield University study that looked at numeracy and literacy over the past sixty years has concluded that levels in the two subjects have generally risen, with England matching the best in the world.  However, the researchers have also concluded that nearly a fifth of 16-19 year olds leave school without the basic skills they need to function in society.

Would-be teachers fear for their future as Ofsted damns training college.  TES, 07 May 2010.

The primary teachers' course at Anglia Ruskin University has been condemned by Ofsted.  Ofsted’s investigation found high levels of dissatisfaction and frustration amongst students.  The course, training 386 students, could be closed down if improvements are not made.

‘Radical change’ vital if colleges are to survive cuts.  TES, FE Focus, 07 May 2010.

That college budgets will be reduced is hardly new news.  However, many in FE will resist change even though a cut in funding will cause it to be necessary.  This was the view stated at a recent Association of Colleges human resources conference.  There are eleven London colleges currently on strike in protest against the £340 million budget cut and the resulting job losses.  The conference view was that unions and management should come to together to provide a united front against the cuts.

See also Editorial FE needs all its famed flexibility for new era”.

Essex pay paves the way to boost apprenticeships.  TES, FE Focus, 07 May 2010.

Essex County Council is supporting a scheme that offers training in the county’s colleges and work placements with local firms.  The scheme, being hailed as a good example of collaboration, will deliver hundreds of apprenticeships, many in engineering