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Whitehall Sharpens The Knife For University Cuts

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Whitehall sharpens the knife for university cuts

WHITEHALL is drawing up plans for deep cuts in the higher education budget that in the worst case would slash a fifth from university finances, funding officials have disclosed.

If implemented, they would lead to the widespread closure of university departments and could cause some institutions to shut altogether.

The Sunday Times reported earlier this month that senior civil servants had been told to draw up contingency plans for 20% cuts in public spending across Whitehall. The government maintains that higher education spending will rise, but vice-chancellors fear their £8.5 billion budget will be among the first to suffer, whichever party wins the next general election.

Richard Pike, chief executive of the Royal Society of Chemistry, said the contingency 20% cut was disclosed by officials at funding quangos to which ministers have devolved responsibility for funding decisions.

“We were told by staff at the funding bodies that this was the worst-case scenario they were working on,†he said.

“Later another member of staff was in contact with us to confirm the 20% scenario. There is a terrible risk to science.â€

Universities have already begun preparing for cuts in funding. According to the University and College Union, 5,000 higher education jobs have either been cut or are at imminent risk, a third of them in London.

A spokesman for the department of Lord Mandelson, who is responsible for universities, said the 20% Whitehall plan had not been instigated by ministers: “We remain committed to investing in our world-class higher education system. Funding will increase by over 4% next year and by 25% in real terms since 1997.â€

Even if the most drastic option is not imposed, the number on a secret official list of institutions “at high risk†of financial failure is expected to grow from the current seven to as many as 30 next year. This is nearly one fifth of the total.

The increase was disclosed in parliament by Rob Wilson, Conservative MP for Reading East. “According to the funding council, seven higher education institutions are already at high risk of financial failure, including London Met and Thames Valley in my constituency,†Wilson told the Commons.

Figures gathered by The Sunday Times show some universities are resorting to increased recruitment of overseas undergraduates to help plug the financial gap. Those from outside the European Union pay the full cost of tuition — often above £10,000 a year.

At Leicester, the number from outside the EU will go up by 26% this autumn, while at Lancaster the figure is 18% and at Bristol 17%. A spokesman for University College London said it had a long-term plan to cut British students and increase its foreign intake.

Another option is higher tuition fees. Ministers have refused to discuss the politically explosive issue of raising the £3,225 fee cap in advance of a review by Mandelson.

The Tories confirmed they were discussing whether tuition fees could be increased. One option would be for students to pay the extra charge up-front rather than receiving taxpayer-subsidised loans, as happens now.

“We will not decide on fees before the review. There are various ideas people are floating and this is one of them,†said David Willetts, the shadow universities secretary.

Not good news if they start cutting from the science departments. There are far too many dodgy degree courses which a lot of us would gladly see the back of.

Tuitions and fees will have to rise to make up for a lot of this shortfall, with the rest being make up by pandering to a much larger audience of foreign nationals.

Looks like it will be come a battle of the fittest for Britons, versus a battle of the richest for everybody else.

One thing this might do is steer the nations youth into essential trades and apprenticeships, which are seriously lacking.

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Can't we sell tonnes of degrees in golf management to those foreigners to subsidise our students? Or do they only want to do the economically useful degrees? Must be something to do with the fact they're paying full price

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Won't this compromise govt targets of having 200% of adults in higher education?

Indeed; compulsory education until the age of 45 to enable us to lead the World in the "knowledge economy" is surely only around the corner.

Seriously, it's great news so long as they don't leave all the bizarre conditions in place that end up meaning they cull science and not flower arrangement & texting (Joint Honours). Unfortunately, that's exactly what they will do.

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http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/694451.stm

Students are to study footballer David Beckham as part of their university degrees.

The Manchester United star's new haircut, marriage to Posh Spice, and sending off against Argentina in the World Cup will all come under the spotlight as part of the football culture course offered by Staffordshire University.

Staff are expecting the 12-week course to be oversubscribed as students scramble for places on it.

The course is being offered as a module which students studying media studies, sociology or sports science may choose to take as part of their degrees.

Professor Ellis Cashmore, lecturer in culture, media and sports studies, stressed that the course would not focus on Beckham.

I wonder if quality like this will be retained?

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http://www.express.co.uk/posts/view/13192/...ng-a-northerner

SOUTHERNERS may well scoff into their fizzy lager.

But wearing a cloth cap, owning a whippet and drinking a proper pint of ale could put you on course for a top academic qualification.

For students can now take a masters degree in northernness to teach them all about life on t’other side of the Watford Gap.

Leeds Metropolitan Uni­versity says the aim of its one-year course is to embrace the unique culture and heritage of northern Britain while attempting to break free from traditional stereotypes.

Dr Marie Stinson, the university’s director of flexible learning, said the course will make use of its partnerships with outside organisations, which include a link-up with the Black Dyke Band, and will involve lectures from Tony Collins,

Professor of the Social History of Sport, who was the first academic to study the role of rugby league in northern life.

More quality here.

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Top 10 Useless College Degrees & Classes

Top 10 Useless Coll

ege Degrees & Classes

Some may argue that there’s no such thing as a useless degree – any education is good education. However, these seemingly pointless studies may be an exception to that rule. Pay attention as we list the top 10 most useless college degrees.

10. David Beckham studies – Staffordshire University, UK

It might sound like a joke, but the squeaky-voiced soccer star actually has a degree course dedicated to him. The course, which is technically classed as “Football Cultureâ€, has been defended by its founder, who argues that degree courses must keep with the times. Celeb-style degrees can also be found in the US, with Madonna studies injected into the Gender course at Harvard (no less) and Oprah Winfrey studies at Illinois.

9. Parapsychology – various colleges

This degree is perfect for starting a career with Ghostbusters. Oh wait, Ghostbusters are fictional – that’s four years wasted. Nevertheless, this course dedicated to the study of the paranormal (Slimer and haunted houses included) is popping up in universities and colleges worldwide. Coventry, Edinburgh, Northampton and Liverpool in the UK, plus Belford and Flamel in the US all offer the course, which makes you wonder if people are watching too many Most Haunted episodes.

8. Doctorate of Philosophy in Ufology – Melbourne University

In August this year, Aussie Martin Plowman became the first student to become a real Dr Who after passing his studies of unidentified flying objects. After his major in culture and communications, he decided he wanted to do something a bit different, so he chose little green men. However, despite his new status, he remains open-minded about things: “When I meet someone who says they’ve seen something strange, that’s fair enough, because maybe they have. I don’t know what it is, though,â€

7. The Phallus - Occidental College

It’s difficult to get to grips with the exact nature of this course – if you’ll pardon the pun. It’s cited as studies “between the phallus and the *****, the meaning of the phallus, phallologocentrism, the lesbian phallus, the Jewish phallus, the Latino phallus, and the relation of the phallus and fetishism†but is actually a survey offered by this distinguished college’s department of critical theory and social justice.

6. Surfing Studies – Plymouth / Melbourne

Gone are the days of dumb surfer dudes riding the waves without a care. Now, surfing means business. With Plymouth Uni in the UK offering a BSc (Hons) in Surf Science and Technology and Southern Cross University in Australia offering Surf and Sport Management, is seems the seaside slackers want to be taken seriously. What next? Wrestling degrees?

5. Philosophy – various colleges

Philosophy, like sociology and psychology, is one of those degrees that people do when they’re not quite sure what vocation they want to follow . It’s a fun-time four years, open to stoners, egocentrics and those that love the sound of their own voice, who will finish the course even more confused at what they want to do in life and probably end up working at a convenience store.

4. Queer Musicology - UCLA

Due to seemingly popular demand, the UCLA have actually combined queer theory – the study of gender, feminism and gayness – with the science of music, to produce a very open-minded course within their Herb Alpert School of Music. The LA Times reported that the course will introduce debates like: “the idea that if you’re gay, then music by gay composers such as Benjamin Britten will sound different to you than it would if you were straight.â€

3. Star Trek - Georgetown University in Washington

It’s a degree, Jim, but not as we know it. The Georgetown faculty of Philosophy argues that “Star Trek is very philosophical. What better way, then, to learn philosophy, than to watch Star Trek, read philosophy, and hash it all out in class?†The Trekkies have also landed at Indiana University, who curiously combine their Star Trek Studies with religion. If only there were more vacancies for professional dorks…

2. Golf Management - University of Birmingham / Florida Gulf Coast University

Here’s another useless sport degree spreading through Universities across the world, but this one lands the number two position because it’s not even fun. There’s nothing much duller than playing golf apart from studying golf, so why these two Universities have offered courses covering the psychology of golf; equipment technology; financial performance and coach education, is a mystery.

1. Art History - various colleges

What career would you ever get with a degree in art history? Maybe an art gallery curator, but how many of those does the world actually need? Most art history courses consist of a selection of well-to-do teenagers and arty-hippy types deliberating over the same Dali and Magritte paintings for four, even five years straight. It’s time to move on!

Honorable Mentions:

The Science of Harry Potter - Frostburg University

Maryland’s Frostburg University provides this honors seminar, which is really a physics class that investigates the supposed magic of Harry Potter. Seems like an excuse to watch the Harry Potter movies.

Learning from YouTube - Pitzer College

California’s Pitzer College has added a class named, Learning from YouTube. TechCrunch reports that “the class consists of students watching YouTube videos and then discussing them. They also leave comments on the videos themselves.â€

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I knew that Surf Science degree would come in handy.

http://www.plymouth.ac.uk/courses/course.asp?id=1645

I can just imagine the syllabus...

Surf speak 101

Sun block and its application 102

etc...

But seriously though, surfers have always been anti-establishment and rogues, like the skaters. Surely this course would make a great holiday for rich kids wanting to play at being bad.

Edited by cashinmattress

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Whitehall sharpens the knife for university cuts

Not good news if they start cutting from the science departments. There are far too many dodgy degree courses which a lot of us would gladly see the back of.

Tuitions and fees will have to rise to make up for a lot of this shortfall, with the rest being make up by pandering to a much larger audience of foreign nationals.

Looks like it will be come a battle of the fittest for Britons, versus a battle of the richest for everybody else.

One thing this might do is steer the nations youth into essential trades and apprenticeships, which are seriously lacking.

Not sure the article was very clear about Quangos. I'd guess it was talking about research councils? They could have a 20% drop in level of funding very easily. Just fewer grants, cover up the amounts via changing the rules on ESA, Diamond, etc. The research grant system has changed anyway with the introduction of so called "full economic costing" where depreciation of equipment has to be charged, lots of scope for covering up cuts in that change.

The bigger factor, the one that politicians don't want to address (certainly not before the election) and perhaps not until after the next election too, is the cap on fees. Why not let Imperial, Oxbridge, UCL and the other Russell group charge £10k per annum in fees, or £15k, or whatever the market will stand?

Personally, I benefitted from a very subsidised education (many years ago), and I'd love for there to be the same for my kids, but unless we go back to only sending a few percent of the population to University, then we can't afford a "free system". While I'd prefer that change, I can see it as politically viable, so the only other option is to lift the fees cap.

The only other slightly credible alternative is a graduate tax, but as we all know, graduates earn more over their lifetime and subsidise the non-graduates anyway, so why make them pay even more to support non-graduates?

So, cuts in research, no question. Fees cap lifted? Probably, but not until either 2011 or 2016. If as late as 2016 then we can look to a pretty depleted and damaged University segment, and with Universities bringing in close on £10bn of foreign exchange earning per annum, it would be sad for the country if the politicians didn't get things sorted out for the earlier date.

Optobear

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Not good news if they start cutting from the science departments. There are far too many dodgy degree courses which a lot of us would gladly see the back of.

If this translates as the usual anti-humanities ('if it doesn't involve a screwdriver or a test tube, it's mickey mouse') prejudice, I'm afraid it won't do much good. The cost of delivering humanities (and to a certain extent social sciences) degrees is infinitesimal compared with STEM subjects. In most cases it is in fact less than the tuition fees, meaning that your literature, art, history, music, film studies, languages, politics, classics and sociology students subsidise their peers. Average cost of putting a humanities graduate through the system = £5k approx. Average cost of training a doctor = £280k. My last monograph was written without any external research funding at all (just an internally funded semester of research leave, plus inter-library loans and general use of the institution's infrastructure). Your average engineer couldn't even design a nut or bolt without several million from a research council.

The debates about graduate employability and the contribution of research outputs to the economy and society are separate ones, but the idea that you'll significantly reduce the costs of higher education by pruning humanities courses here and there is a Daily Mail fantasy, I'm afraid.

Edited by The Ayatollah Bugheri

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I've been expecting this for a while - higher education as we've known it will be toast.

I doubt we can even rely on supporting the status quo by encouraging more non-EU students, as we will increasingly be competing with the USA and continental Europe for a depleting pool of rich foreigners (whose own countries will be expanding their HE infrastructure anyway).

We're clearly at the entertainment stage of higher education - keeping the wheels turning by offering courses that are designed to part people from their money rather than actually educate them. It won't last long, though. I would expect most of the former polytechnics to be out of business (or downgraded to technical colleges) by the end of the next decade.

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Your average engineer couldn't even design a nut or bolt without several million from a research council.

This is obviously utter b0llocks.

As an engineering graduate I spent the vast majority of time in lectures - it was only very occasionally that we entered a workshop or test facilities. And unlike the spongers on humanities subjects we didn't get the jolly trips to European art galleries or museums etc.

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Your average engineer couldn't even design a nut or bolt without several million from a research council.

There could just be a tiny bit of exaggeration there.

The debates about graduate employability and the contribution of research outputs to the economy and society are separate ones, but the idea that you'll significantly reduce the costs of higher education by pruning humanities courses here and there is a Daily Mail fantasy, I'm afraid.

Absolutely correct. It's physics and chemistry departments that'll be closing, not departments of English literature. The number of full-time researchers in scientific subjects is probably greater than ins arts subjects by a factor of 10 or more, so if you want to save money, that's the place to start.

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I knew that Surf Science degree would come in handy.

http://www.plymouth.ac.uk/courses/course.asp?id=1645

Dont knock it:

A significant number of graduates have progressed to higher degrees, including three graduates, from the 6-year pool of graduates, undertaking PhDs: Ross Pomeroy (also a lecturer for Surf Science and Technology, and graduated 2004) 'Permeability characterisation of continuous filament mat reinforcements for resin transfer moulding'; Paul Cook (graduated 2003) 'Commoditised surf culture and how authenticity and irreverence are used to market surf brands'; Robert Brewin (graduated 2006) ‘Investigating the role of phytoplankton functional types in CO2 flux variability’. There are also many who have progressed to various masters programmes.

:blink:

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