Wednesday, July 29, 2009

British dictate: universities must do more for the working class

One confused man below. How is it going to help the working class by making fees more expensive? The only way is if the universities give more students free tuition. But that would negate what they gained through higher fees. So why bother? Leftist non-logic very much in evidence here -- as is a Nelsonian blind eye to the fact that it is failing schools that are hurting the poor -- not the universites

Universities must recruit more working-class students to justify an increase in tuition fees, Lord Mandelson said yesterday. He also admitted that a long-awaited review of top-up tuition fees, to begin this autumn, would not conclude before the general election. This means neither political party will face the wrath of middle-class voters if the review decides — as expected — that the current £3,000 cap on fees should rise.

Lord Mandelson set out his vision for higher education in his first speech to leading vice-chancellors since taking responsibility for universities as the Business Secretary.

It heralded an end to universities’ reputation as ivory towers catering for full-time, young undergraduates living away from home. The future lies in mature and part-time students taking shorter or alternative degrees, such as two-year honours degrees, part-time degrees and modular programmes that do not result in a degree, he said. This was reflected in his choice of setting for the speech: Birkbeck — which offers only part-time degrees. It is part of the University of London.

Universities’ efforts to attract students from poor backgrounds had not been good enough, Lord Mandelson said. He “intended to turn up the spotlight on university admissions”.

He described a university education as a ticket to the best-paid employment and said access to it would “inevitably define the degree of social mobility in Britain”. He added: “Any institution that wants to use greater costs to the student to fund excellence must face an equal expectation to ensure its services remain accessible to more than just those with the ability to pay.”

Universities are desperately trying to widen access by providing bursaries, setting up summer schools for disadvantaged teenagers and visiting primary schools. While this has improved the breadth of intake, many older institutions, such as Oxford and Cambridge, remain dominated by middle-class and independent school students.

Lord Mandelson had a dig at elite universities, asking: “Why, for all the work in the sector and all the seriousness with which it has tackled this question, are we still making only limited progress in widening access to higher education to young people from poorer backgrounds — especially at our most selective universities? It is not enough for universities simply to confer life advantages from one generation of professionals to their children.”

He wanted going to university to become a “peer group ambition” among pupils, but refused to be drawn on the detail of how he thought universities should widen access — or whether they should accept lower grades from applicants from disadvantaged families.

Rather than operating as remote institutions, universities should be forging links with local business and exploiting their talent for commercial gain, Lord Mandelson said. He accepted that they were not “factories for producing workers”, but said more could set up companies that market the expertise of their postgraduates and professors.

Foreign students — who account for 8 per cent of income earned by universities — are vital to the economy, Lord Mandelson said, although he revealed that several vice-chancellors had contacted him with concerns about a points-based visa system that makes it more difficult for some potential students to come to Britain.

Universities emphasised the key role of schools in widening participation in higher education. Wendy Piatt, of the elite Russell Group of universities, said: “Evidence shows that academic achievement at school continues to be key factor in determining whether a student will go on to university.”

Diana Warwick, of Universities UK, said: “While we recognise the importance of universities having strong links with employers and schools in raising aspiration, we are clear that greater attainment at 16 is still the critical factor in achieving wider participation in higher education.”

Paul Wellings, of the 1994 Group of research intensive universities, said: “It is crucial that universities work in partnership with schools to provide advice and raise aspirations.”


Another crime-fighting bright idea flops in Britain

There's nothing nearly as effective as locking them up for a LONG time -- as they do in many parts of the USA. Bright new ideas for penal reform never stop coming but they never work -- as I have noted previously

A radical US-style court initiative in which judges monitor each criminal’s progress after sentencing has failed to cut reoffending rates. The results are a blow to supporters of specialist community justice courts who had hoped for better results in preventing criminals returning to a life of crime.

Community courts involve a hands-on approach by judges who monitor offenders once they have left the dock and on-site agencies to help to deal with the underlying problems behind criminal behaviour such as drugs or housing. But reconviction rates for offenders dealt with by the North Liverpol and Salford community courts were marginally worse than those who went through an ordinary court in Manchester.

Of offenders who went through the North Liverpool court, 38.7 per cent were convicted of a further crime within a year and 38.3 per cent of those dealt with at Salford, compared with a reoffending rate of 37 cent in the Manchester court.

The position was even worse on breaking the terms of punishment. “Those in North Liverpool and Salford combined were significantly more likely to breach sentence conditions than those in Manchester,” said a report.

One reason for the higher breach rate in North Liverpool may be linked to tougher monitoring of offenders by probation officers, who adopt a more rigorous approach than those in Manchester, it suggested. However, the official study said there was an indication that the initiative might reduce slightly the number of crimes committed when a criminal reoffends.

The North Liverpool Community Justice Centre opened in September 2005, and cost £5.4 million to establish and costs £1.8 million a year to run. The smaller project in Salford cost £150,000 to set up and cost £100,000 a year to run.

Based on the Red Hook Community Justice Centre in New York, the courts use a multi-agency approach, referring offenders on-the-spot to professionals who deal with their specific problems, from housing to addiction. They also seek local residents’ views on particular problems and appropriate punishment.

The idea was supported enthusiastically by Lord Woolf when he was Lord Chief Justice and by David Blunkett, when Home Secretary, who both visited the Red Hook centre, were impressed with its work and decided to create a similar community justice court in England. The Ministry of Justice said: “This report looked at reoffending in the first year of the initiative when community justice was in a very early stage of development — the initiative will need more time for the effects to bed in to give a true picture of reoffending rates.” Ministers have already abandoned plans for a network of the community courts, saying there was no money to fund them.


British regulators don't know how to regulate social workers

Now tell us something we didn't know already

The competence of Ofsted to inspect children’s services and help to protect young people from abuse and neglect has been challenged by the Government’s child protection chief. Sir Roger Singleton used his first interview in the post to warn ministers that too many Ofsted staff lacked the skill and experience to hold social workers to account and drive up standards. If matters did not improve and inspectors failed to win the respect of social workers it would be “all too easy” for their judgments and recommendations to be ignored, he warned.

Ofsted took responsibility for inspecting children’s services in April 2007. Concerns over its performance were raised a year later when it emerged that inspectors had given Haringey a clean bill of health months after the death of Baby P, who was on the child protection register and under the watch of its social workers. He died of horrific injuries in August 2007. Ministers refused to accept that the death meant Ofsted was not up to the job of inspecting children’s services, although a new system of regulation was swiftly adopted.

Sir Roger, who was made the Government’s first chief adviser on the safety of children in March, welcomed the changes but said that problems remained. “Obviously, it makes it all too easy for those who are inspected to ignore the results if they don’t have respect for the inspectors. It is important Ofsted works to build its regard and respect in this area. It is not in any of our interests to have a view that they are not competent,” he said.

He said that he had heard “quite a lot of dissatisfaction from the field” about the work of inspectors that could no longer be ignored. The main complaint was the “high rate of variability” in what they knew about vulnerable children and safeguarding in particular. “It is difficult to think there is not some substance to it,” he said.

Sir Roger, a former chief executive of Barnardo’s, noted that Ofsted had recently announced plans to hire 20 or more inspectors with direct experience of children’s social care as a sign that it recognised its problems. Ofsted also announced that it has appointed John Goldup, a former senior social worker from Tower Hamlets, as a director. He is the only person with experience of child protection to reach board level. “It will be necessary to improve the range of skills and experience that Ofsted inspectors have in relation to children’s social care,” Sir Roger said.

Fears over Ofsted have also been sounded by MPs including Barry Sheerman, the Labour chairman of the Commons Select Committee on Children, Schools and Families, who has twice asked Christine Gilbert, the chief inspector, to give evidence on the performance of children’s services.

The Conservatives are reviewing Ofsted’s future and do not rule out taking away its role to inspect children’s services. “Ofsted is basically a schools’ inspectorate that is conducting a paper exercise when it goes to children’s services departments,” said Tim Loughton, the Tory children’s spokesman. “They don’t go out on the beat. They stay in the office and look at files. They simply don’t have the right people.”

Ofsted rejected any suggestion that it needed to improve its performance. Roger Shippam, its director for children, said: “We do not recognise the criticism that Ofsted lacks social care expertise. It is understandable that there is much anxiety surrounding the inspection of social care at the moment, especially following the death of Baby Peter.”

SOURCE. More details of how hopeless and corrupt the system is here

What Does & Does Not Cause Climate Change and the threat to integrity in science

by Piers Corbyn

A letter to Professor Sir Peter Knight, Senior Principal at Imperial College for research strategy and deputy to the Rector

Dear Peter

Further to the very interesting discussions we had at the Imperial College centenary dinner event in 2008 on matters of Climate Change and the integrity of Science I attach my updated presentation on What Does & Does not Cause Climate Change. This extends the points I made to you to include new findings I presented at the RCSA Centenary dinner on Dec 9th 2008 and the New York International Climate Change Conference on March 10th 2009 and also new graphs from USA scientists showing continuing decline in world temperatures despite rising CO2 levels.

The point I made that the CO2 driver theory of Climate Change is refuted by the evidence and will be cast aside by solar-based science and therefore it would be better for Imperial to lead its demise and advances in new science rather than lose credibility by defending the indefensible, stands more strongly than ever.

The CO2-centered Climate theory and all that stands with it in business and politics is doomed; or if it is not doomed then the integrity of science itself is surely doomed. It is incumbent on scientists of with moral fibre to defend evidence-based science and the integrity of science.

I recall that 40 years ago this week I and other students at Imperial stayed up all night to watch the Moon landing on 20th July 1969. That was an historic moment. If science and engineering then had been conducted at the abysmal level of integrity now displayed by 'Climate Science' & the theory of man-made Global Warming, the Moon landing would never have succeeded and neither would much of the advances of science since then.

Please have a look at and feel free to circulate the presentation and also the information I include therein about the proven significant skill of our solar-based method of long range forecasting (Solar Weather Technique) and let me know of any comments you may have.


Fancy a British passport? Just move to Scotland: Home Office's 'absurd' new plan to tackle immigration

Immigrants who want a British passport will have a better chance if they agree to move to Scotland under ‘absurd’ new Home Office plans.

Concerns about a huge expected increase in the population over the next 20 years have forced the Government to propose a points-based system for those seeking citizenship. The population of 61million is expected to hit 70million by 2029 and ministers want to make it harder for migrants on work permits to stay permanently.

But yesterday, the Scottish Secretary revealed that if immigrants were willing to live in under-populated parts of Britain, they would find it easier to pass the test. Jim Murphy said: ‘Having lived and worked in Scotland is proposed as one way to earn points.’

The move, contained in a draft consultation to be released in the next few weeks, means prospective British citizens already settled in Britain may flock north of the border to ensure they have enough points to be successful. But it is unknown what measures will be taken to police the system and prevent abuses.

Critics point out it will be extremely difficult to check that an applicant is living and working in Scotland and whether they will stay there. Also, once a passport application is approved, the Government has no control over the person’s movements.

Shadow immigration minister Damian Green said: ‘This is completely absurd. Is the Government proposing to rebuild Hadrian’s Wall to prevent people from crossing the border? ‘It is a completely inappropriate idea for solving problems in Scotland or the rest of the UK.’

Campaigners said it could damage a sound Home Office policy that is designed to make it tougher for migrants to settle in Britain. At present, there is a firm link between a migrant obtaining a visa to work here, and going on to receive a British passport. Under these rules, the number of British passports given to migrants is set to hit a record of almost 220,000 this year. During the first three months of 2009, 54,615 citizenship applications were rubber-stamped by the Home Office – up 57 per cent on the same period a year earlier, and the equivalent of nearly one every two minutes. At current rates, the number of immigrants receiving passports – and with them the right to claim full benefits – will obliterate the previous record of 164,540 approvals, set in 2007. Last year, the number of passports granted was 129,310, and when Labour came to power in 1997, just 37,010 people were given citizenship.

Sir Andrew Green, chairman of the campaign group Migrationwatch UK, said: ‘It is an excellent scheme to split economic migration from the right to settle, but it makes no sense to treat Scotland differently. ‘A condition requiring residency in Scotland is completely unenforceable. ‘England receives over 90 per cent of immigration, and faces 95 per cent of the extra 10million population now projected for the next 20 years. We cannot allow the tail to wag the dog on a matter that is so important to the future of our society.’

A Home Office spokesman said: ‘The points system has already proved to be a powerful tool for controlling migration, which is why we are now looking at applying its principles to the path to citizenship. ‘The measures require migrants to earn citizenship. ‘This is the first step towards breaking the automatic link between temporary residence and permanent settlement. ‘But, we want to look at raising the bar even more.’


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