News round-up: Restrictions on student loans could result in some universities losing a third of their intake

There is controversy over leaked plans to end loans to students with three Ds or less, and one university is shutting students out of campus libraries for failing to pay rent


Oxford places ban on donations and research grants from Huawei

The Guardian, 18/01/2018, Rob Davies

The University of Oxford has placed an indefinite ban on accepting research grants or donations from the Chinese telecoms firm Huawei, which is facing mounting concerns from several governments about whether it poses a risk to national security.

The decision emerged the day after the US prosecutors reportedly opened an investigation into Huawei for alleged theft of trade secrets from American firms. Berlin is also reportedly weighing up measures to exclude the company from working on the rollout of 5G mobile infrastructure in Germany.


Highest number of first class degrees on record as almost one in three students graduate with top marks 

Daily Telegraph, 17/01/2019, Camilla Turner

The highest number of first class degrees on record were handed out last year, with almost one in three students graduating with top marks amid concern about grade inflation.

Of those who completed undergraduate degrees last summer, 110,475 students across the UK (28 per cent) were awarded a first.


Students banned from accessing university emails for failing to pay rent, against CMA rules

Daily Telegraph, 17/01/2019, Tom Mitchell


Students have been banned from accessing university emails and shut out from campus libraries after failing to pay rent, it has been revealed.

Undergraduates at the University of Liverpool who live in university-owned accommodation and are unable to pay their rent on time are being handed “academic sanctions”, contrary to Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) guidance.


London state school secures 41 Oxbridge offers

BBC, 17/01/2019, Rianna Croxford

“Both of my mums were so excited,” says Dorcas Shodeinde. “First I rang my foster mum and then I rang my actual mum,” she explains.

Dorcas has been in care since she was 14 and has just received an offer to study Law at Oxford university.

She is one of 41 students at Brampton Manor, a state school in east London, to have secured an offer to study at either Oxford or Cambridge this year.


University forced to apologise after ‘racist’ email accused Chinese students of cheating

Daily Telegraph, 16/01/2019, Camilla Turner

A university has been forced to apologise for a “racist” email that appeared to accuse Chinese students of cheating.

The student welfare department at Liverpool University wrote to students with advice about their upcoming exams, setting out the rules and regulations as well as the punishments for students caught cheating.


Lecturers to strike again over pay

The Times, 16/01/2019, Mark McLaughlin

College lecturers are to go on strike today for the third time in four years in a prolonged dispute over pay.

Lecturers will join picket lines at campuses and hold a demonstration outside the Scottish parliament, backed by the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS), the Further Education Lecturers’ Association (FELA) and the National Union of Students.


Student loan ban: some universities could lose a third of their intake

The Guardian, 15/01/2019, Anna Fazackerley

Some modern universities could lose about a third of their students and face a struggle to survive if plans go ahead to stop young people with lower grades qualifying for loans, data obtained by Education Guardian suggests.

The prime minister’s review of post-18 education, due to report next month, is expected to recommend a cut to tuition fees. But another idea that has been leaked is to limit numbers by stopping young students qualifying for a loan if they get fewer than three Ds at A-level.


One in 10 students in England ‘rich enough to avoid big debts’

The Guardian, 15/01/2019, Press Association

About 10% of students in English universities avoid having to rack up large debts and pay “sky-high” interest rates because they are rich enough to pay their fees upfront, researchers have said.

Approximately 110,000 undergraduates are “escaping” the student fee system by paying for university in one go thanks to a “get-out-of-jail-free card” from their wealthy families, according to a think-tank.


Leaked e-mails reveal high tensions over choosing the next vice chancellor of Swansea University

Wales Online, 15/01/2019, Martin Shipton

A furious exchange of emails has emerged which reveal serious tensions within Swansea University in the run-up to the suspension of Vice Chancellor Richard Davies.

Professor Davies was suspended in November with three other academics in an unprecedented move which has shocked the higher education community in Wales and beyond.

It has emerged that the investigation into the academics is looking into the £200m life sciences and wellbeing village project in Llanelli, which the university was involved in.


University switches off social media to help student well-being

BBC, 15/01/2019, Sean Coughlan

A university is switching off all its social media channels for a few days as an example to encourage its students to try their own “digital detox”.

De Montfort University, in Leicester, wants to highlight how “unrestrained social media use” can be harmful to the mental health of young people.

The university operates nine different social media channels, including Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram.


Review to back student loans for further education in England

Financial Times, 14/01/2019, Andrew Jack
The government’s review of post-18 education in England is set to call for people in further education to be given student loans on similar terms to those going to university. The move is designed to encourage more people to pursue vocational and professional training — including those seeking a “second chance” later in life — and to better fill England’s significant skills gap.


Oxford Union ‘no platforms’ Right-winger

Daily Telegraph, 13/01/2019, Camilla Turner

The Oxford Union has been accused of “no platforming” the head of a prominent right-wing Catholic organisation.

William Donohue, President of the Catholic League, an American civil rights group, claimed he had been unceremoniously “uninvited” to speak at an upcoming debate


Students want ‘homophobic’ Oxford don John Finnis to be fired

The Times, 09/01/2019, Rosemary Bennett

A petition to remove an Oxford law professor from teaching has attracted 350 signatures in five days.

John Finnis, emeritus professor of law and legal philosophy, has been accused of having “a long record of extremely discriminatory views against many groups of disadvantaged people”, including gays.