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Sector News, 20 - 31 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Ministers have said that the government would continue to fund an extra 10,000 places next year, but this would be withdrawn by 2012.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's comments that this would 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.

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 it is a success and according to the university, shows that many students are interested in learning a language, although 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.

Heads cool on Gove's pledge to shift teacher training into schools.  TES, 24 December 2010.

Heads of schools are not in favour of Michael Gove’s plan to move teacher training from universities to schools.  Heads say that they would prefer their new entrants to come from university.

Challenge to Gove claim that 'social mobility went backwards under Labour'.  Education Guardian, 27 December 2010.

Michael Gove’s insistence that social mobility went backwards under Labour has been refuted by a statistical analysis carried out by the Labour Party.  The analysis shows that the proportion of poor teenagers who go to university has been rising at a far higher rate than that of their better-off classmates. Between 2005 and 2007 the number of pupils receiving free school meals – a standard measure of poverty – who went to university jumped by 18% compared with a rise of 9% among pupils not entitled to free school meals.

Universities pay thousands to students to compensate for mistakes. Education Guardian, 27 December 2010.

Data obtained under the Freedom of Information Act shows that £346,505 was paid out last year to students who complained at 60 universities. These institutions, which make up just over half the total number of universities in the UK, also waived fees – either fully or partially – for 101 students.

Hughes takes role of access champion.  THE, 29 December 2010.

Downing Street has announced that the David Cameron and Nick Clegg have appointed Simon Hughes to the new role of advocate for access to education. Simon Hughes, deputy leader of the Lib Dems, abstained from the vote to raise the cap on fees, to which he recently declared his “long and continuing opposition”.

Rationalised and regionalised: Welsh funding council plans for a leaner sector.  THE, 29 December 2010.

The number of higher education institutes in Wales is to be cut from eleven to six within the next two years.   The move is part of the Welsh Assembly’s desire to have regional higher education, which will require merger and possibly the involvement of FE colleges.