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Sector News, 08 - 11 November 2010

Tuition fees: one mothers advice to her son.  Education Guardian, 09 November 2010.

Lisa Freedman who runs an education consultancy suggests affordable options for a higher education for her son.  She puts forward options such as joining the army, using universities in the US and Canada, part time degrees and private degrees which are often only two years in duration

Colleges struggle to appoint principals.  Education Guardian, 09 November 2010.

Getting people to apply for jobs as principals in FE colleges is getting harder. The pressure of the job is a large component of staff’s reluctance to step up to the mark.  Not only do principals have to be business minded they also have to be politicians at local and national level.   The article explores the views of Angela Joyce, recently appointed principal of Peterborough Regional College.

Immovable feast of talent.  THE, 11 November 2010.

Whilst universities are attempting to ‘globalise’ their operations the visa controls operated by the UK Border Agency seem to be operating systems which are designed to prevent this from happening.  Whilst the Border Agency is rightly concerned about the abuse of the visa system, universities say that the Agency is making it difficult for them to recruit overseas students.  Even the Duke of York has expressed exasperation about the system saying that in every country he goes to he gets complaints about the visa regime.  

Thousands march as students and staff join forces against university cuts.  THE, 11 November 2010.

A demonstration organised by the University and College Union and the National Union of Students has estimates of 25,000 to over 50,000 participants.  The demonstration against rises in tuition fees took place under the banner "Fund Our Future: Stop Education Cuts" and rang out with the chant: "No ifs, no buts, no education cuts". A group of protestors, not believed to be students, caused damage to the Conservative Party headquarters in Millbank Tower, resulting in the evacuation of workers from the building. The action was condemned by the organisers.

Must do better: HEA chief calls for teaching ‘licence’ to end inconsistencies.  THE, 11 November 2010.

The Head of the Higher Education Academy (HEA) has complained that university teaching is almost the only profession where people do not require a qualification or licence to work.  Professor Mahony (head of HEA), will tell a conference in London this week that universities must start recognising staff efforts to teach.

Hold your nerve, humanities told.  THE, 11 November 2010.

Professor Stefan Collini opened the “Why Humanities” conference organised by the Birbeck Institute for the Humanities this week.  In his opening speech Professor Collini said that the public have a greater interest in the humanities than the government would have us believe.  The conference followed government decisions to cut 40 per cent from the higher education budget, reduce teaching funding and make science and technology a priority.

Don exposes catch-22 in university access policy.  THE, 11 November 2010.

David Willetts, the universities minister, has made it clear that universities wishing to charge more than £6,000 in tuition fees must undertake to commit to outreach activities and financial support for poorer students.  However, a professor has said that he is concerned that universities such as Oxford and Cambridge could decide not accept students from richer backgrounds causing a knock on effect where lesser universities are flooded with candidates who missed out but who do not fill the access criteria.

Year abroad may be out of reach as 105-year-old route overseas is closed.  THE, 11 November 2010.

A further set-back to modern language development is likely if university language departments adopt plans to suspend a scheme that has given students the chance to study overseas.  The problem has been caused by a government request to the British Council not to open recruitment for English Language assistant placements in 2011-12.

REF pilot: humanities impact is evident and can be measured.  THE, 11 November 2010.

Opinion:  Judy Simons, emeritus professor at De Montfort University and chair of the pilot expert panel in English language and literature.

Judy Simons explains how the panel dealt with unsatisfactory terminology such as ‘impact’ and came to the compelling conclusion that the worth of the humanities can be measured.  The article explains that the UK publishing industry is worth £3 billion a year, how the team found evidence of influence in national policy making and of powerful partnerships between public cultural initiatives, museums, theatre companies and galleries.

Features in the week’s THE:

Leadership sans frontières”: follows on from the leader, “Immovable feast of talent” (above).  Jon Morgan asks whether globalisation is becoming a reality as universities look abroad for senior managers.   

All together now...”:  Robin Dunbar professor of evolutionary anthropology at the University of Oxford,  explains why he believes that music should be at the heart of education.

Novel ideas and life lessons”:  Roger Lister a professor at Salford Business School, University of Salford, is concerned that the humanities are rapidly becoming the preserve of the wealthy.  Professor Lister says that cutting teaching grants will ensure that the humanities will become the reserve of the rich and that poorer students will study vocational courses perhaps without any input from the humanities.

The Arts.  THE, 11 November 2010.

This week’s arts section includes a discussion about Matisse’s dancing forms; “Timeless unlike technology”;  “Precision confidently worn”, reviews the Merce Cunningham Dance Company’s performances at the Barbican in London and  a discussion on “The Happiness Salesman” (BBC2, 31/10) headed “Debts and honour”.  “The Pick - A game of life and death”, brings to the reader’s attention the British Museum’s exhibition on the Egypt’s “Book of the Dead”.

Colleges face ‘alarming’ cuts of £2.5m each.  TES, FE Focus, 12 November 2010.

Research undertaken by the House of Commons Library has concluded that a typical college of 20,000 equivalent full time students will loose about £2.5 million on an £8 million budget when the impact of the spending review is felt.  Gordon Marsden, shadow skills minister, said that the figures were very worrying and that there is a further worry when the Government scraps direct grants to over 25s taking level 3 courses.

Connexions takes Next Step to all-ages service. TES, FE Focus, 12 November 2010.

Next year Connexions the 14-19 career service will merge with Next Step its adult counterpart.  The merged agency will begin work with teenagers next September and become fully operational in April 2012.

Under-16s’ vocational experience in colleges is ‘at risk from cuts’is a .  TES, FE Focus, 12 November 2010.

The Association of Colleges (AoC) has told the Wolf review of vocational education that colleges have already seen a reduction of the number of pre 16 students attending colleges from schools.  The AoC insists that Government cuts will almost certainly ensure that this steady reduction of numbers will continue despite the acknowledged success of these programmes.