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UK Universities now using entrance tests

One in seven UK universities now using entrance tests
UK, July 21, 2008: One in seven universities is now using entrance tests as part of its selection procedures, a report says.

The Universities UK (UUK) report says 14% of higher education institutions now use one or more written tests.

Such tests are thought very useful for identifying very able applicants on high-demand courses but are not limited to these, the UUK report says.

But it warns that tests could place an extra financial burden on would-be students from poorer backgrounds.

Both Oxford and Cambridge universities use entrance tests for at least some subjects, and other universities use admission tests for students wanting to study medicine or law.

In June, Imperial College London said it would be introducing entrance tests for courses other than medicine because grade inflation had made it difficult to use A-level results to distinguish the best students.

The UUK report also suggests that increasing the number of tests used by universities could lead to "an undesirable (and profitable) industry that would provide coaching for those who could afford it".

Liberal Democrat universities and skills spokesman Stephen Williams said there was a risk that universities selecting by exam could act as a further barrier to widening participation.

"Taking such tests can be costly and pupils from better-off backgrounds are more likely to be 'coached' in advance.

"Ministers should at least give serious consideration to radically overhauling the admissions system so that students apply after they receive their A-level results.

"Bright pupils who have not considered applying to university may then rethink their decision once they have got their results.

"It would also give institutions more confidence in prospective students' abilities, rather than expecting them to rely on predicted grades," Mr Williams added.

However, the Universities UK report warned that there was not enough time between the publication of A-level results and the beginning of the university year in September and October for admissions to be decided and processed.

"The need for more time to complete a post-qualification admissions process than the summer period allows has led to suggestions that the start of the university year should be deferred to the following January."

This could affect candidates from backgrounds with little or no financial support in the intervening period and could lead to a loss of enthusiasm for higher education, it added.

BBC News

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Madrassas educate more girls than government schools: Jalandhari
Karachi, July 21, 2008: The secretary general of a body of madrassas in Pakistan, Qari Muhammad Hanif Jalandhari, has said that the government's policy being prepared on seminaries must be done in consultation with all madrassa boards as a unilateral policy or decision will not be acceptable.

The secretary general of the Wafaqul Madaris Al Arabia Pakistan said this at a press conference Saturday at a restaurant adjacent to Jamia Binoria Al-Almia in SITE Town. "Recent statements made by the authorities on madrassas have become a mission and a routine intended to please foreign rulers," Qari Jalandhari said. "They levy false and baseless accusations against madrassas even though seminaries in Pakistan are involved in spreading education and promoting literacy." The top cleric maintained that seminaries have built a network of students and NGOs the likes of which have not been seen even in the developed world.

"We will not accept any policy made by the government which destroys our independence, our own educational identity, in the name of welfare and improvement," Qari Jalandhari said. "Instead they should focus on issues which have not yet been addressed," he suggested, "because we believe in resolving issues through dialogue and in the past we have always settled differences through dialogue."

The registration of seminaries, the addition of English, Math, Science and other subjects to the curricula and visas to foreign students were matters settled with previous governments through dialogue, he said. "But the present government is delaying the implementation of these policies." If the government does not give up using these delay tactics, the madrassa boards will be forced to rethink their policies.

Qari Jalandhari said that the former government wanted to deport foreign students but madrassa leaders and ulema or scholars held talks and it was decided that any student who had a no-objection certificate from his country of origin and a letter of admissions from a madrassa would be allowed to complete his education. The matter of newly admitted foreign students has been in a deadlock for the last four years and so new students from abroad are still not being given study visas, he said.

For those students who are already studying here, it was decided that their visas will be extended. However, the reality is that no such visas are being extended. Recently, Federal Home Secretary Kamal Shah gave Jama Binoria Principal Mufti Muhammad Naeem verbal assurances that blacklisted students will be taken off the blacklist and given extended visas. However, Shah has now refrained from keeping this promise.

For his part, Mufti Muhammad Naeem of Jamia Binoria, said to the media that after the Lal Masjid incident, they would not give the government "enough time to take any more lives". "We will not rest until the visas of our foreign students are extended," Mufti Naeem said. He also warned the government that the power to make changes in the syllabus lay with the madrassa boards and that syllabuses developed by "Westerners" (i.e. Lord McCauley) will not be acceptable.

Jama Binoria Principal Mufti Muhammad Naeem, Jamiat Ulema-e-Pakistan Karachi President Qari Muhammad Usman and others also spoke. Usman said that the JUI-F is a coalition partner but will oppose any harmful policies for madrassas. The JUI-F will issue a call for efforts against them from Karachi to Khyber.

PPI adds: The scholars also said that seminaries have more female students than government-run schools. They demanded the government recognize the positive role they played and lift undue restrictions from them. They also demanded the US and NATO withdraw their forces from the Pakistani border, "otherwise 1.7 million seminary student would play their role to defend the country." He questioned why the Pakistani government was bent on expelling these students when the Indian government was inviting foreign students to study in their seminaries, even though it was called a secular state. Daily Times

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University employees seek VC's removal
Hyderabad: A large number of employees of the Sindh Agriculture University held a demonstration outside the press club here on Sunday, demanding removal of the university's vice-chancellor Dr Basheer Ahmed Shaikh.

Leaders of SAU Employees Action Committee Hussain Bux Veesar, Karam Ali Punhoon and Syed Abdul Majeed said that Dr Shaikh whose tenure was extended after retirement and his team of retired officials had failed to improve the university's conditions.

They accused the VC, his sons and retired officials hired by the VC of corruption and alleged that Dr Shaikh and his team had filled their own coffers at the cost of the university.

They alleged that Mr Shaikh had destroyed Shah Latif University when he was the varsity's vice-chancellor and now he was bent on destroying the Agriculture University.

They said that the employees had signed many agreements with the VC after protests but the administration had never honoured them. They held the VC responsible for the continued protest and demanded his removal.

SNF: A group of Sindh National Front activists staged a demonstration outside the press club on Sunday in protest against registration of a case against their colleagues, Noor Nabi Halepoto and Salar Burfat, at Jamshoro police station.

SNF leaders Muzaffar Sehto, Pervez Solangi and Shafiq Solangi said that the case was false. Their colleagues had been implicated in it after they raised voice against land grabbers, they said.

They said that police were conducting raids on the residences of their colleagues and warned that if the case was not withdrawn they would launch a movement throughout the province. Dawn

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