Education shorts - 20th April 2012 | Redbrick | University of Birmingham

Education shorts – 20th April 2012

The New College of the Humanities has said that has received 350 applications and will offer 91 places to students, with 22% of successful applicants coming from state schools

The New College of the Humanities has said that has received 350 applications and will offer 91 places to students, with 22% of successful applicants coming from state schools. The college will charge £18,000 per year, and offers external degrees from the University of London. Master of the college A. C. Grayling has said, ‘It is our long-term ambition for the college to become needs-blind and to have as many of its student body as possible on financially assisted places’, adding: ‘This is how the leading American universities do it, by building up a major endowment, and this is the model we are seeking to create here over time.’ The general secretary of the University and College Union Sally Hunt responded to the intake figures, saying: ‘Much needs to be done to help arts and humanities following the government's punitive slashing of teaching budgets. However, few people are convinced that charging the highest fees in the land is the way to ensure courses are available to all.’

The Universities Minister David Willetts announced this week that more university places will be available to high-grade applicants this year. Speaking at a conference for the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), Willetts revealed that students with AAB A-level grades would have access to 85,000 university places, instead of the previously expected 65,000. ‘That is a quarter of all entrants,’ he said. ‘It is a radical change that has started to liberate the system.’ Responding to Willetts’ speech, Dr Wendy Piatt, Director General of the Russell Group of leading research universities said, ‘We welcome David Willetts’ ambition to ‘go further’ on liberated undergraduate places. From 2013-14 we would like to see the threshold for exclusion from the student number controls lowered to ABB - possibly for specific science and language subjects.’

The University of Birmingham has been nominated for two awards at the Times Higher Education Leadership and Management Awards 2012, it was announced on Thursday. The University has been nominated for the award for Outstanding Marketing/Communications Team, as well as the award for Outstanding International Strategy. On its website, the Times Higher Education says that the awards seek to ‘celebrate the talented and dedicated staff working to steer universities and colleges through a time of unprecedented change.’ The other institutions nominated for the top award are the University of Nottingham, Queen's University Belfast BPP University College, London College of Fashion and Robert Gordon University. The winners of the awards are scheduled to be announced a gala ceremony at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London on the 21st June.

A report released by the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts this week says that universities in the Russell Group spent £382 million on staff members earning £100,000 or over last year, representing double the amount spent in 2003-4. The report said, ‘With the total cuts to UK universities being at 3.4% these figures are extremely worrying. It is entirely possible that a significant proportion of the cuts could be mitigated by restraint at the top.’ Dr Wendy Piatt, Director General of the Russell Group responded to the report, commenting: ‘Our vice-chancellors and other senior staff lead complex multi-million pound organisations that succeed on a global stage. First rate leadership and academic talent is crucial if our universities are to continue to excel in such a challenging economic climate.’

The Guild of Students announced on Wednesday the seven delegates it will send to the National Union of Students Annual Conference taking place in Sheffield next week. Guild President Mark Harrop will attend the conference, along with VP for Welfare Luke Reynolds, VP for Housing and Community Zuki Majuqwana, VP for Democracy and Resources Hugo Sumner, VP for Education Edd Bauer and VPE-elect Simon Furse. NUS delegates Anisa Ather and Shabaana Kidy will also be attending. The conference is due to be streamed live on the NUS Connect website. The website states that the conference ‘sets policy for the year ahead in each of the 5 zones and elects the President, Vice Presidents and Block of 15 representatives on the National Executive Council. It is also where the budget for the year ahead is decided through the Annual General Meeting (AGM).’ The seven elected delegates will be representing the Guild of Students during the conference and can be contacted by emailing


20th April 2012 at 6:25 pm