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Sector News, 25 - 29 August 2008

Everyone needs a chance to leave home to study.  Education Guardian, 26 August 2008

Opinion – Estelle Morris. (No link)

Estelle Morris's opinion is that students who leave home to study, notably at university, are richer for the experience.  In 1994, 12.8% of students lived at home; by 2006, that had risen to more than 20%.   Estelle believes that we should not encourage this trend.  University life is more than acadmic education, the beneifits of meeting new people becoming self sufficient and working in new surroundings cannot be underestimated. She cites the success of grammar schools in bringing working class children into universities and states that the majority of the 20% staying at home are from low socio-economic backgrounds.  So important is this issue to her, that she argues that those taking vocational qualifications should also have the opportunity to study away from home.

Debate grows on academic rigour of degrees.  THE, 26 August 2008.

Professor Kevin Sharpe of Queen Mary University London, stirred up a ‘hornet’s nest’ when he stated that modular degrees had been made too easy to pass.  This week the THE publishes the opinions of a few other academics on the subject of dumbing down.

Employers ‘stuck in 1970s’ over co-funding.  THE, 26 August 2008.

Despite Government initiatives and the willingness of some universities to co-operate with industry, academics complain that employers are quick to criticise but slow to get involved.

It’s the culture, stupid.  THE, 26 August 2008.

“Philip Esler offers to fill a yawning gap in No 10’s strategy [.]”  He argues strongly that the Government has got it wrong if it continues to see Arts and Humanities as poor relations.

A lighter weight of paper?  THE, 26 August 2008.

Professor Kevin Sharpe, continues his assault on university standards by noting that PhD standards are too low.

Encyclopaedia Idiotica.  THE, 26 August 2008.  

Wikipedia did not exist prior to 2001 and it owes its content to what the THE call ‘computer nerds’.  Hence, the growing unease that it is gradually finding favour with academics.

‘Challenge the copycats’, TES, 29 August 2008.

Edexcel’s examiners say that their fears of plagiarism once the new GCSE additional science exam had started, have been met.  There is evidence, they say, that passages pasted from the internet, into student essays, are not being challenged

Universities scoop college cash. TES, FE Focus, 29 August 2008.

An underspend of £208 million, initially put aside for Train to Gain, has reportedly been given to universities rather than the FE sector. John Denham (DIUS) has admitted that over £100 million has been spent elsewhere.  A critique of Train to Gain is given in the Comments section of FE Focus under “The trouble with Train to Gain”.

New coalition fights for adult students.  TES, FE Focus 2008.

CALL (Campaigning Alliance for Lifelong Learning), UCU (University and College Union), NUS (National Union of Students and the WEA (Workers’ Education Association) perhaps along with the Conservative Party, are to lobby MPs to improve access for adults to education.