HE News Briefs 14.9.11

  • KOREA: After an extensive audit, 43 institutions have lost important funding
  • ENGLAND: Institutions are rethinking the amount they want to charge for tuition fees
  • INTERNATIONAL: According to a new report, collaborative international degrees are on the rise
  • NETHERLANDS: Morning raids at VU Amsterdam and University of Amsterdam
  • UGANDA: Institution shutting down due to lack of funds and staff discontent
    Read more

Large number of English and Welsh Universities given go-ahead to charge domestic and EU students fees of £9,000

By Mansoor Iqbal, Education Writer

It has been confirmed that a number of universities in England will be allowed to raise their tuition fees for domestic undergraduates to the maximum permitted amount of £9,000. 47 out of 123 universities will be charging the maximum fee across the board, with just over 80 charging it for some of their courses.

Initial proposals to raise tuition fees allowed universities to raise their fees to £6,000, which would increase to £9,000 in ‘exceptional circumstances’. However, the only requirement universities had to meet in order to charge this amount was that they produced plans to widen participation with which Offa (the Office for Fair Access) was satisfied – the result was tidal waves of universities proposing fees significantly higher than £6,000.

Offa has not rejected the proposed fees levels of any universities, indicating that it is satisfied with the access agreements made by all institutions, for which it has been criticized by some parties.  Universities that do not successfully widen participation after the higher fees are introduced, however, will be penalized. It should be noted that Offa only had the power to approve or reject access agreements, not to set the fees.

Average fees are £8,393, or £8,161 when fee waivers – a key facet of most universities’ plans to widen access – are introduced to the equation. A small number of institutions’ average fees remain at £9,000, even after access schemes are taken into account, due to opting for bursaries and other forms of financial support rather than fee waivers. Read more

UK universities to compete for domestic student places

by Mansoor Iqbal

A long-awaited white paper, detailing the vision of David Willetts, the UK’s minister for Universities and Science, for the future of the country’s universities has been unveiled to the public.

One of its central tenets is the idea of increased competition between universities for student places, an idea which has not escaped the eye of the higher education commentariat. Private providers – which are not subject to caps on numbers – will also be invited to compete for these students.

A university must meet one of two conditions before they are permitted to claim a higher share of students: either by offering average domestic fees of under £7,500 (the amount originally anticipated by the UK’s government when raising the threshold to £9,000) or by taking on students who achieve grades of AAB or higher in their A-Level examinations.

It is estimated that there will be around 65,000 prospective undergraduates in the latter category, and an estimated 20,000 places will be offered to universities who meet the former criterion. This means that the total numbers of students universities must compete for is equivalent to around a quarter of the annual uptake of domestic undergraduates (competition on price will not apply to Scottish universities, which are free for Scottish students).

These 85,000 or so places are not, strictly speaking, extra places, as they will be removed from universities’ individual allocations of students. The total number of undergraduates will stay at much the same level. It has been argued that this number is too small, leading to students struggling to get onto oversubscribed courses.

Experts have predicted that non-elite universities who have chosen to charge the top fees will lose out on numbers as a result of these plans. High achieving students will certainly take advantage of extra places that the more prestigious universities will be able to create, and thus far lower fees have been the preserve of newer, more technical establishments. Universities which expand their numbers will also receive extra funding accordingly. Read more

HE News Brief 17.5.11

by Abby Chau


  • ENGLAND: Universities Minister David Willetts continues to draw fire for his HE proposals
  • UK: The Guardian has just released its list of top UK universities, with Cambridge topping the league table
  • GERMANY: Universities are overcrowded and many are calling for the reforms
  • FRENCH: New internationalisation strategy to target mobile students
  • AUSTRALIA: Losing its grip on mobile students
    Read more

HE News Brief 26.10.10

by Abby Chau

  • Dominating headlines in England is former BP boss Lord Browne’s recommendation for lifting the university tuition cap as well as chancellor George Osborne’s announcement that £81bn pounds will be cut from government spending. Universities Minister David Willetts recently signalled that a compromise with Liberal Democrat Business Secretary Vince Cable will soon be announced, with fees raising to £6,000 or £7,000 instead. Ministers look poised to vote on this before Christmas, with the new fees, if they are approved, taking effect September 2012.  Wendy Piatt, director general for the Russell Group, which represents 20 of the country’s most elite universities, says that it will be a missed opportunity if institutions are not allowed to set their own tuition fees in order to guarantee quality and standards.
    Full Story: Independent
    More: Guardian

  • Jordan has announced that by 2014, 65% of their 120,000 public higher education students will get their tuition fee either funded fully by zero-interest loans or through a scholarship. The Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research Walid Maani said that the establishment of the Student Loan Bank at the end of the year will issue zero-interest loans, with banks issuing the loan and not the government. Students are expected to pay back the loan after graduation.. 40,000 students are expected to take advantage of the loans by 2014. The minister stated that allowing their students easy access to higher education will raise the profile of Jordanian universities.
    Full Story: Jordan Times
    More: Ammon News

  • Scotland’s Education secretary Michael Russell wants to tap into the “unlimited market” in China for English language instruction. On a trip to Beijing, he said that Scotland is well placed to deliver such services, and is hoping to increase the intake of Chinese students which currently stands at approximately 5,000. Russell met with the Chinese minister for education to discuss  partnerships in teacher education and developing PhD programmes. International students are charged a fee set by Scotland’s universities and as such are seen as a significant source of income. In 2009, international students contributed £419 million to the economy. The number of Chinese students at Glasgow University has increased by 40%. And with the announcement of massive budget cuts, Scotland’s strategy to keep their institutions afloat appears aimed at an internationalisation strategy.
    Full Story: Herald Scotland Read more

HE News Brief 12.10.10

by Abby Chau

  • Former BP Chief Lord Browne today released his long-awaited report on higher education. It comes as no surprise that he is advising that the tuition fee cap be lifted. If the Coalition government takes on his recommendations, students may pay up to £12,000 a year for their degrees. This is a contentious issue as the Lib Dems are solidly against hiking tuition. In addition Lord Browne is recommending a 10% increase in student intake as well as advising that universities focus more on career advice, supporting part-time students, and empowering students to dictate which university should flourish.
    Full Story: Guardian
    More: BBC News
  • As university league tables grow in influence and prominence, the IREG Observatory on Academic Ranking and Excellence, which first met in Washington in 2004, is serving as a watchdog of university rankings. At a conference last week in Berlin, they announced that an executive team will be conducting audits of producers of league tables to make sure they comply with certain principles such as transparency and accessibility of methodology.
    Full Story: Chronicle of Higher Education

Read more

HE News Brief 26.4.10

by Abby Chau


A few Higher Education news articles to ponder before the long Bank holiday weekend:

  • Measuring the quality of universities in Africa, particular East Africa, is a new measure established by the African Union in order to ensure the caliber of graduates. Universities are asked to respond to the African Universities Quality Rating Mechanism, a questionnaire that seeks to assess the quality and development of education and research at institutions.
    Full Story: The East African
  • Wales is outpacing England in recruiting under privileged and diverse students? According to a report from the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales, Welsh universities in some cases are recruiting more disadvantaged students than English institutions.
    Full Story: 
    Wales Online
      Read more

HE News Brief 21.4.10

by Abby Chau


The volcanic ash no doubt dominated headlines this past week. However a few higher education newsworthy pieces also managed to generate some heat:

  • UK students threaten politicians with rebuke if they back raising tuition fees. The Head of the National Union for Students have identified 20 “student battlegrounds”, including Newcastle, Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, Sheffield, Reading, Cambridge, London, Southampton, Bristol, Leeds and Oxford.
    Full Story: BBC News
  • Ecuador seeks to transform their higher education system, starting with issuing higher standards for professors. Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa said that it is crucial to have first rate professors and that rectors must play an important role in support this new legislation.
    Full Story:
    Inside Costa Rica 
    Read more