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The axe will fall

Universities will learn what will be cut this week, writes Alison Goddard.

The in-year spending cuts announced by George Osborne on 4 June are due to be identified in the coming few days. The Higher Education Funding Council for England is expected to make an announcement shortly. The Treasury has instructed the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills to avoid harming science but some people are now worrying that this protection is rather fragile. Others remain concerned—despite assurances given in Parliament not to touch student maintenance grants—that student support will be affected. We look at calls made today to increase the sums available to meet the cost of living.

Elite firms are excluding bright working-class graduates, reports the BBC. Its story is based on a report published by the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission, which notes that 13 accountancy, law and financial services firms recruit predominantly from the 24 universities that belong to the Russell Group. The figures are extremely ropey: the study equates attending a Russell Group university with having been educated at a fee-paying or selective school, which is clearly untrue; and it ignores the third of recruits that did not attend a Russell Group institution. Nevertheless the story has legs: even the Financial Times repeats the claim that "Britain’s most elite firms operate a ‘poshness test’ that systematically locks talented working-class people out of high-flying jobs". The Daily Telegraph has an article by Sir Terry Leahy, formerly of Tesco, who thinks that firms should recruit more widely. We take a look at a call by Les Ebdon, director of the Office for Fair Access, for universities to better prepare students from disadvantaged backgrounds for employment.

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