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Latest education news, comment and analysis on schools, colleges, universities, further and higher education and teaching from the Guardian, the world's leading liberal voice

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    The party has promised to end tuition fees – but needs to think about young people who have already racked up £30,000 of debt

    In summer 2012, English tuition fees suddenly tripled to become the highest in the world. Young people choosing to go to university had no choice: for the vast majority it was huge debt or no degree.

    These fees turn education into a cheap and nasty marketplace where universities that lie about their product can succeed. The supposed benefits of markets do not apply to higher education: students and their parents are not repeat consumers; they don’t know what they are buying, while universities know very well how to tart up what they’re selling. Some institutions have become more focused on marketing, thanks to the financial incentive, than on providing a good education.

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    Abuse on campus, fear of speaking up – feminist academics say some universities aren’t protecting them

    Last Tuesday morning, an angry student shouted at Prof Rosa Freedman outside the students’ union at Reading University. She was a “transphobic Nazi who should get raped”, he yelled.

    Freedman packed up and went home. She felt shaken and, “for the first time on campus, afraid of physical violence”.

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    Leading surgeon says lack of hobbies and creativity in schools has affected children’s practical abilities

    New medical students have spent so much time on screens that they lack vital practical skills necessary to conduct life-saving operations, a leading surgeon has warned.

    Roger Kneebone, professor of surgical education at Imperial College London, said that a decline in hands-on creative subjects at school and practical hobbies at home means that students often do not have a basic understanding of the physical world.

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    How hard is it to start a creative career? Five young artists reveal their experiences

    After I graduated I tried a couple of odd jobs doing coffee work and even a marketing internship, but that wasn’t for me. One day I found the confidence to organise my own solo show at a local gallery in south London. (I had been painting the whole time.) I sold 90% of the work and thought I could take about two months off before I ran out of money. I quit my job, started renting a studio and gave it a shot. It was a bit of a risk, but I thought if I don’t I won’t force myself to succeed.

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    The chancellor’s patronising budget offer has angered teachers like me who know the dire state of school finances

    There has been a palpable sense of anger among school leaders, teachers and parents in recent months about crippling cuts to school funding. In September, thousands of headteachers marched in an unprecedented protest against funding shortages in England. Last week, a petition signed by 34,000 parents was delivered to the education secretary, Damian Hinds, criticising the dire state of funding for special educational needs. Now, even students are getting involved; the brilliant #floss4funding social media campaign saw school pupils across the country performing the dance craze to raise awareness.

    Related: Headteachers forced to do menial tasks at unfilled rural schools

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    MPs challenge company chair over trawling applicants’ social media to inform loan decisions

    Student Loans Company applicants should expect to have their Facebook posts and social media activity vetted as part of the approval process, despite a senior MP condemning such surveillance as “sinister, KGB knock-on-the-door” tactics.

    Christian Brodie, the SLC’s chair, told a committee of MPs that the company gathered evidence from social media to determine eligibility for student loans because it regarded personal Facebook accounts as a public source of information.

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    Christian Brodie deflects inquiries after SLC was found to have gathered evidence from people's Facebook accounts to determine whether or not they needed student loans. When asked by a senior MP, Brodie kept issuing the same statement

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    Having denied any sexual contact with accusers, Oxford academic now claims alleged France attacks were consensual

    It is the biggest repercussion of the #MeToo movement in France: the influential Swiss-born academic Tariq Ramadan, a professor of contemporary Islamic studies at Oxford University, has spent the past nine months on remand in prison after two French women accused him of raping them in hotel rooms in Paris and Lyon.

    Ramadan denies rape, the women stand by their allegations, but in recent weeks the case has increasingly played out in the public arena. Supporters of the well-known academic, who has spoken out against restrictions on the Muslim headscarf in France, say the justice system there is biased against him. They say the 56-year-old father of four is the victim of a conspiracy, has not been given due process and should not be on remand in jail, where he is being treated for multiple sclerosis in a hospital wing.

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    Chancellor’s claim that £400m more for education is ‘a nice gesture’ compounds negative reaction

    Twenty-four hours after giving schools a £400m budget bonus to “buy the little extras they need”, Philip Hammond appeared to have done little to assuage the anger of headteachers, despite a busy round of media interviews.

    Far from building bridges, the chancellor risked making the situation worse by describing the one-off payment to schools in one interview as “a nice gesture”, which would help headteachers afford “a whiteboard, a couple of computers, whatever it is they want to buy”.

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    Northerners aged 25 to 44 more likely to die from causes such as suicide and smoking

    There has been a “profoundly concerning” rise in early deaths from accidents, suicide, alcohol misuse, smoking, cancer and drug addiction in the north of England, deepening the north-south divide, research has found.

    Socioeconomic deprivation has led to a particularly sharp rise in deaths among 25 to 44-year-olds , according to new data analysis from Manchester university.

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    Transferring to a different course is an option – but consider this before you jump ship

    Sometimes, no matter how long you spent researching courses or visiting uni open days, you realise you’ve made a mistake. It might have been on day one of lectures, when you’d never felt so uninterested in your life. Or maybe it was months down the line, when you realised that the course wasn’t what you wanted after all. Whatever the case, try not to beat yourself up over it. Mistakes happen; you can resolve it. So when and how do you switch degree courses?

    Make sure you’re sure

    It takes time to settle at uni. If you’re feeling a bit out of your depth in the first few weeks, don’t rush to make any drastic changes. It’s a good idea to talk to experts as soon as possible, though: tutors and the careers service will help you work out if your course isn’t right for you; if you can change anything within your existing course (such as different modules); or if there are other courses that might work better.

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    The government is asking universities to step up their support for care leavers, but they can be hard to reach

    Hawa Koroma is a 23-year-old single mother with two children. She left school with just handful of GCSEs after spending her teenage years looking after her younger sister and grieving for her mother, who died of cancer. Aged 16 and pregnant with her first child, she ended up in a care home. “I was lost,” she says. But unlike most care leavers she found her way: she’s now a first-year university student with ambitions to become a child psychologist.

    Related: 'Universities shouldn't be comfortable': vice-chancellors on campus protests

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    St Mary’s University will no longer offer students places irrespective of A-level grades

    A university in London has ditched the controversial practice of offering prospective students unconditional places prompting a union call for other institutions to do the same.

    St Mary’s University in Twickenham announced the plan after acknowledging a number of students who had been given unconditional offers did not go on to achieve their expected grades.

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    Amanda Spielman says nearly 500 state schools pose a risk to England’s quality of education

    Hundreds of schools in England are stuck in a decade-long rut of poor performance that is “nothing short of a scandal” and threatens to undermine the country’s quality of education, the chief inspector of schools has told MPs.

    In an outspoken letter to parliament’s public accounts committee, Amanda Spielman, the head of Ofsted, detailed a series of major risks to the school system in England, including several comments that are critical of government policy.

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    Judicial review is latest action begun by parents in London to fight special needs spending cuts

    A group of families have gone to the high court in London to try to overturn local authority cuts to special educational needs (SEN) spending, claiming their children are already failing to get the support they require.

    The judicial review against the London borough of Hackney is the latest in a series of legal actions launched by parents across England as struggling local authorities turn their eye to ballooning special needs spending in order to make savings.

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    Experts share their advice on finding a job in law

    It’s no secret that the hours spent writing CVs and cover letters for law can be time-consuming and unrewarding. But going into the writing process with a wealth of good advice at your disposal can make the difference between a thanks-but-no-thanks email and the invitation to interview.

    Adapt your application to every firm or chambers. Make sure you research the firm or chambers thoroughly and note down any specialisms or individualities that are unique to them. “Look at the pupillage or training contract committee and find out more about what they’ve worked on. Look at published cases from the firm or chambers. Talk about how and why these areas interest you,” advises Maham Qureshi, a senior paralegal at a city law firm.

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    Research shows that the popularity of rock combos is threatening to make orchestral instruments obsolete, with the ukulele fingering its share of the blame

    Sound the Last Post, if you can find anyone to play it: research shows that some orchestral instruments are in danger of becoming extinct, due to young people’s lack of interest. YouGov research, commissioned by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) to find the most popular instruments among schoolchildren, has revealed the increasing popularity of the ukulele, with one in eight expressing a desire to learn, making it the highest ranked instrument behind the typical rock-band grouping of guitar, piano, keyboards, drums and bass guitar.

    But younger generations’ interest in “more sophisticated instruments”, as the Times sniffed, is waning, with the three least popular being the French horn (also known as The Wolf, in Sergei Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf), the double bass (Peter) and the trombone (not a major player).

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    Leaked documents point to ‘potential reputational damage’ of controversial move

    Controversial plans by the University of Liverpool to open up a campus in Egypt have been scrapped in the face of opposition from academics, students and others.

    The announcement comes after the Guardian reported earlier this year that leading British universities had been accused of turning a blind eye to human rights abuses in Egypt in pursuit of opening campuses under the country’s authoritarian regime.

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    107 international academics react to social media reports that more than 20 universities in Brazil have been invaded by military police in recent days, with teaching materials confiscated on ideological grounds

    Reports have emerged on social media that more than 20 universities in Brazil have been subjected in recent days to: invasions by military police; the confiscation of teaching materials on ideological grounds; and the suppression of freedom of speech and expression, especially in relation to anti-fascist history and activism.

    As academics, researchers, graduates, students and workers at universities in the UK, Europe and further afield, we deplore this attack on freedom of expression in Brazil’s universities, which comes as a direct result of the campaign and election of far-right President Bolsonaro.

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    Kaimes school in Edinburgh at centre of row between local council and NASUWT union

    A school in Edinburgh has sent 11 teachers home without pay for refusing to teach or supervise pupils they say are abusive and violent.

    The council has said staff should not be allowed to decide who they teach, but a union has accused local government of failing in its duty of care.

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