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Kent student heading to the US for a bright future

Lily Prendergast competed with 1200 other students to win a place at Smith College, Massachusetts Credit: Shellina Prendergast

A 17 year old student from Headcorn has won a coveted place to study at an American university after competing with 1200 other UK youngsters.

Lily Prendergast is one of 150 who'll be attending Smith College, Massachusetts after participating on the Sutton Trust's US Programme, run in partnership with the US-UK Fulbright Commission. Thanks to the trust, she'll also get a financial aid package to see her through college.

The aim of the programme is to encourage academically talented, low and middle income British students to consider studying at American universities. Lily will go to the States when she finishes her International Baccalaureate at Tonbridge Grammar School.

  1. Christine Alsford

Record numbers apply for university places

A record number of candidates are applying to go to to university this year, seemingly undeterred by fees of up to nine thousand pounds. Overall, figures are up by four per cent - but in the ITV Meridian region there are winners and losers.

Some universities - particularly those offering skills and vocational courses - are proving highly popular. At Surrey applications are up by a staggering 35 percent, Portsmouth is up by 12 percent - and Southampton Solent saw an increase of eight percent.

But the more traditional universities have been hit - Oxford is only up by 1 percent - and Reading says applications are down compared to the same point last year.

ITV Meridian's Social Affairs Correspondent Christine Alsford has been looking at the bigger picture - and finding out if enough is being done to offer teenagers alternatives to taking a degree.


Debate begins again over the cost of degree. How much will students pay in future?

The debate is starting all over again about how to fund Higher Education. Christine Alsford speaks to vice-chancellors Sir David Bell at Reading, Professor Joy Carter from Winchester, and Southampton Itchen MP and former universities minister John Denham about the challenges ahead.

Could the cost of a degree be set to rise again?

The deadline for prospective students to apply for university in September passed at 6pm today. Students are already paying fees of up to nine thousand pounds a year. But could the cost of a degree be set to rise again?

One top university has already said it wants to charge up to seventeen thousand. Meanwhile, the whole debate over who should fund higher education - and how - is rearing its head once more. ITV Meridian's Social Affairs correspondent Christine Alsford reports.

In her report Christine Alsford speaks to University of Reading Vice-Chancellor Sir David Bell, students at the University of Southampton and the University of Winchester Vice-Chancellor Professor Joy Carter.

UCAS university forms deadline at 6pm

Students celebrating their graduations after finishing university courses

Any would be students in the region hoping to apply for university have until six o'clock this evening to submit their forms on the UCAS website.

Several sixth form colleges in the region are reporting an increase in applications, in some cases entries are up by as much as six per cent. Applications fell two years ago following the trebling of tuition fees. Final figures will be released at the end of this month.


University staff will go on strike over pay

Staff at universities, including Brighton, Sussex and Southampton Solent, will be going on strike today in a row over pay.

Members of Unison and Unite will be forming picket lines from 7am.

It is their first national strike over pay in 7 years.

The strikes could mean that lectures or tutorials are cancelled, possibly causing disruption to whole departments.

The strikes are predicted to have a "low level impact" on students.

New free online lectures launched

Video. It is being billed as one of the biggest changes to higher education for generations and some believe it could spell the end of the university campus all together. The first wave of a new generation of free online lectures and courses has just been launched in this country.

But will they result in higher education learning a tough lesson, as they lose income from tuition fees? Our Social Affairs correspondent Christine Alsford reports.

Dorset police crackdown on alcohol crime

Police in Dorset will be carrying out additional patrols and offering advice to students during freshers' week to reduce alcohol related crime.

It comes as part of the 'In Focus' campaign which will run over five days from 18th to 22nd September.

It aims to highlight the realities of dealing with drunkenness and alcohol-related incidents.

The campaign coincides with freshers' week - when new students arrive at their chosen universities.

Police hope that a greater presence will help people face up to the problems of excessive drinking.

University Liaison Officer PC Andy Scarratt said: "We will be offering students advice on staying safe whilst on nights out. Our aim is for individuals to enjoy their student experience, but in a safe and well informed way.”

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