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Sector News, 20 - 24 December 2010

University places to be cut by 10,000 by 2012, minister reveals.  Education Guardian, 20 December 2010.

Ministers have said that the government would continue to fund an extra 10,000 places next year, but this would be withdrawn by 2012.  However, David Willetts comments that this will not matter because of demographic changes could be met with some scepticism as applications for entry to university keep on rising.   Additionally, ministers will cut the university teaching grant by £300m next year, from £4.9bn to £4.6bn and the grant for research by £100m.

Wiki Leaks cables: UK businessmen 'overeducated' says Richard Branson.  Education Guardian, 20 December 2010.

At a lunch held in January 2008 by Chinese businessmen in Beijing the Chinese criticised British entrepreneurs as being "overeducated, too conservative, lacking passion for entrepreneurship and too afraid of failure".  Richard Branson agreed with them despite having set up the Branson School of Entrepreneurs in South Africa.

World university rankings.  THE, 23 December 2010.

A full list of the Times University Rankings can be found following the link.

Scarce cash may foil lecturer training plan.  THE, 23 December 2010.

As the cuts start to bite, teacher training for new academic staff is to become compulsory.  Universities say that such a move is not realistic when budgets are being squeezed.   There is a graduate higher education teaching course already being run, but its take up is patchy.  If the funding cuts are as deep as suggested then the future of the compulsory qualification will be open to doubt.

Broad courses give 'dying' subjects new lease of life.  THE, 23 December 2010.

Students at Aberdeen are bucking the trend and studying foreign languages and classics.  The curriculum at the University of Aberdeen, launched in September, gives first year students the opportunity to study languages and/or classics outside their main subject stream.  Judging by the take up the curriculum is a success and according to the university, shows that many students are interested in learning a language, they just do not want it to be their main subject.

Summer schools 'improve access - keep them'.  THE, 23 December 2010.

Aimhigher Summer Schools: Participation and Progression to Higher Education, published last week by the Higher Education Funding Council for England, concludes that the success of summer schools in widening participation in universities must not be lost.  The research confirms that targeting disadvantaged students has been highly effective.