Friday 28th March: Ministers may be tempted by a recent report to interfere further with university admissions, but says Professor John Marenbon, that would be to miss the point of both the report and universities themselves.
This week it was reported that universities have been given the ‘go ahead to favour state school pupils’ after ‘a major study showed they gained better degrees than peers educated in the private sector.’ The report, by HEFCE, the government’s university funding agency, announces among its conclusions that ‘state school students tend to do better in their degree studies than students from independent schools with the same prior educational attainment.’
The statistic therefore implies that independent school candidates look better on paper than they really are. For instance, the odds are 3:2 that a state school pupil who gains BCC at A-level will get a good degree, whereas the odds for an independent school alumnus with the same grades are less than evens. And so the argument appears to go, if admissions tutors want to be fair and also to select the best candidates – they need to engage in more positive discrimination against those from the independent sector.
Friday 21st March: The Chancellor had a good budget. But life is far from rosy for everyone, says Dr Gerard Lyons.
In the wake of the Budget, the question on many lips is: will pensioners-when they receive their future pension pots- be short-term in their thinking? Welcome to the British economy! Freed from the need to buy annuities,they may in the future decide to buy houses instead, another feature of Britain's recovery.
Friday 7th March: As the Lib Dems claim the EU is good for jobs, Professor Tim Congdon takes a cool look at the figures which show Lib Dem claims are baloney. If anything, the EU has been bad for jobs and competitiveness at home and abroad.
The unexpected rise of the UK Independence Party’s popularity over the last 18 months has come as a shock to the threeolder parties, particularly to the Liberal Democratic Party. The LibDems are now regularly behind UKIP in both opinion polls and local government elections. Earlier this week a LibDem memo on the threat from UKIP was leaked, with suggestions about how best to counter criticism of Britain’s membership of the European Union. One point came out clearly in this document, that the LibDems’ core argument is that ‘EU membership is good for jobs’. The Lib Dems intend to push the slogan, ‘In Europe, in Work’.
Friday 28th February: This week's battle over benefit reform shows that Britain's welfare state needs more than the tough love being dished out by Work and Pensions Secretary, Iain Duncan Smith. The left broke ranks as Simon Danczuk MP for Rochdale told Ed Milliband that Labour should be far tougher on benefits reform. Politics that allow endless benefits spending is 'too comfortable, too easy for people on the Left', he said. 'Where's the money going to come from? I know people who won't work and should work'. Meanwhile, George Carey, former Archbishop of Canterbury, took the bishops of England to task for playing left– right politics with benefit reform when they implied the 'safety net' of the welfare state was now lacking and politicians were morally to blame for the ills suffered by the poor as a result. Factors other than the cuts were at play, said Dr Carey: dysfunctional communities had problems more complex than could be reflected by simplistic moral judgements.