1) GENERAL INFO
Education in England is overseen by the Department for Education and the Department
for Business, Innovation and Skills. At local level, local authorities take responsibility for
implementing policy for public education and state schools.
Full-time education is compulsory for all children aged between 5 and 16 (inclusive).
Students may then continue their secondary studies for a further two years (sixth form),
leading most typically to an A level qualification, although other qualifications and
courses exist, including Business and Technology Education Council (BTEC)
qualifications and the International Baccalaureate. The leaving age for compulsory
education was raised to 18 by the Education and Skills Act 2008. The change will take
effect in 2013 for 17-year-olds and 2015 for 18-year-olds. State-provided schools are
free of charge to students, and there is also a tradition of independent schooling, but
parents may choose to educate their children by any suitable means.
Higher education typically begins with a 3-year Bachelor's Degree. Postgraduate degrees
include Master's Degrees, either taught or by research, and Doctor of Philosophy, a
research degree that usually takes at least three years. Universities require a Royal charter
in order to issue degrees, and all but one are 'financed' by the state with a 'low' level of
fees, though these are increasing, for home and European Union students.
2) CURRENT AFFAIRS
Whether your heart goes out to the students taking to the streets or not you will
probably be wondering where all the trouble began.
Since Lord Browne laid out his recommendations for sustainable funding of
higher education, the coalition government have been palpably keen to
implement almost everything he suggested.
Lord Browne took the view that, with more and more people enjoying a higher
education, the government should not keep footing the bill for the research
grants and other hand outs to universities.
The argument is that graduate students are more likely to succeed in life, so they
could afford to fund universities off the back of the benefits of their higher
education. This way the education system will be sustainable, meaning that
university funding will grow as the number of high achieving graduates grows.
But Browne wasn’t specific about the amount of money needed to make this new
sustainable system tick over. The government are left having to pick figures such
as what is the upper limit on the tuition fees?
In David Willetts’ speech he announced £9, 000 is to be the upper limit for
tuition fees, £6, 000 a year the expected average.
Why pick the figure of £9,000 a year for fees? How much do universities look to
again in tuition fees after the law goes through? How long, roughly, will it take
before universities become sustainable, if student numbers continue to grow and
they continue to earn at the rate they currently do?
We have some data that will help to explain the funding of higher education as it
was and how it will be.
Are the students right to be protesting? You decide.
Drastic tuition fee hike in Britain sparks clashes
Großansicht des Bildes mit der Bildunterschrift: The cost of getting a degree in Britain
has just gone up
British parliamentarians have backed a government plan to sharply
increase tuition fees at universities across England and Wales. The vote
sparked clashes between students and police.
Violent clashes on Thursday between police and students outside the parliament building
in London accompanied the vote inside in favor of adopting a drastic hike in tuition fees
at British universities.
Police on horseback charged into the crowd outside Westminster Abbey to push
demonstrators back from the Houses of Parliament. Groups of protesters had earlier
broken through police lines, throwing sticks, stones, paintballs, metal objects and other
Inside, members of parliament debated the planned increase in annual tuition fees, from
the current level of 3,290 pounds ($5,200) to a maximum of 9,000 pounds, nearly tripling
the cost of a higher education.
Many MPs did not toe the party line
The House of Commons finally approved the plan by a reduced majority of 21 votes,
indicating that several members of the ruling Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition
bolted from the party line. Ordinarily, the government has a majority of 84 seats in the
650-seat parliament. Bildunterschrift: Großansicht des
Bildes mit der Bildunterschrift: British police officers on horseback confront angry
students in London
While facing the biggest challenge so far of its seven-month tenure, the government
argued that the three-fold increase in fees was necessary to ensure sustainable long-term
funding for university education.
Critics maintain that students from lower-income families will be deterred from academic
Student outrage targets Lib Dems
The Liberal Democrats, led by Nick Clegg, have been the prime targets of student
criticism because they had made an election campaign pledge not to support fee
Instead, they had promised to phase out charges altogether over the next six years. A
defiant Clegg dismissed opponents of the policy as “dreamers.”
“I would feel ashamed if I didn't deal with the way the world is, not simply dream of the
world as I would like it to be,” he said.
The government of Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron has made cutting
Britain's record peacetime budget deficit its priority, and government departments have
been ordered to reduce spending by some 19 percent over the next four years.
Author: Gregg Benzow (dpa, AFP, Reuters)