Thursday morning news briefing: 'Right to favour' poorer A-level students

·6 min read
Inflation; university; migrants; channel crossing; floods; Manchester United
Inflation; university; migrants; channel crossing; floods; Manchester United

A-level students will get their results today after the first exams held for three years. And they have been warned to brace for disappointment, as predicted grades are expected to have been overly generous.

A higher than usual number of pupils are set to go through university clearing, after exam boards were ordered to crack down on grade inflation and reduce the proportion of A and A*s.

The new Education Secretary today says universities are right to prioritise places for poorer pupils. In his first comments on the debate over alleged "social engineering" in higher education, James Cleverly says that he is "not uncomfortable" with universities using the background of children to decide between applicants with similar grades.

As education editor Louisa Clarence-Smith reports, his stance appears to be different from his predecessor's.

Interest rates on track to double over six months

Britain is suffering the worst inflation crisis of any G7 country after prices surged at their fastest rate in 40 years. Consumer prices rose 10.1 per cent in the year to July, the biggest leap since 1982 and a higher rate than in America or the major eurozone countries.

The increase – which was particularly driven by rises in the cost of food including butter, milk and olive oil – will pile more pressure on consumers already facing the steepest real pay cut on record, and comes ahead of another jump in energy bills this winter.

Commuters also face a record increase in rail fares, despite months of strikes, with workers walking out again today. This is all you need to know about closed routes and partial services.

Last night, Liz Truss pledged to combat inflation if she becomes prime minister by tackling "economic orthodoxy". But a warning from the Institute for Fiscal Studies threw her tax cut plans into doubt.

Meanwhile, interest rates are expected to double in the next six months, with traders in financial markets betting the Bank of England will have to step up its efforts to stamp out price rises.

Officials, led by Andrew Bailey, the Governor, have already raised rates from 0.1pc in December to 1.75pc earlier this month in an effort to counter rising prices. Financial markets expect the Bank to now take the base rate much higher.

Tim Wallace reports on fears that aggressive rises will worsen a looming recession. And this is what rocketing rates mean for property prices.

Gambia tries to shake off its sleazy image

It is closing time for the "golden girls" of Gambia, as officials take action to end the country's reputation as a seedy magnet for older women looking for toy boys.

Authorities in the west African country have had enough of pensioner sex tourists and want to attract a better class of visitor.

"What we want is quality," said Abubacarr S Camara, director of the Gambia Tourism Board. "Tourists that come to enjoy the country and the culture, not that come just for sex."

Tom Collins, in Banjul, explains how the former British colony plans to target higher-end tourists.

Daily dose of Matt

In his latest cartoon, Matt takes a tongue-in-cheek look at the cost of going to university. For more insight on Matt's work, sign up to his newsletter.

Also in the news: Today's other headlines

UK weather | Nearly 40 beach pollution warnings have been issued in just 48 hours after water companies poured sewage into rivers and the sea. Heavy rainfall this week led to mass sewage dumps into the sea around the south coast of England, leading to warnings against bathing because of bacteria levels. As parts of the UK saw their first rain in weeks, Olivia Rudgard reports how a theatre had to be evacuated midway through a performance and flash floods brought travel chaos.

Around the world: Russia's war is 'deadlocked'

Russia's war on Ukraine has reached a "strategic deadlock", Volodymyr Zelensky's presidential adviser has said, as the near six-month war shows no let up in fighting. Ukrainian forces today said they had beaten back a Russian attack in the southern region of Kherson, while Russian shelling in the city of Kharkiv killed seven people. Our live blog has the latest.

A Ukrainian firefighter tackles a blaze in Zatoka, a beach resort in the Odesa region - AFP
A Ukrainian firefighter tackles a blaze in Zatoka, a beach resort in the Odesa region - AFP

Comment and analysis

Sport briefing: 'Let me buy United'

Sir Jim Ratcliffe, Britain's richest man, has indicated his interest in buying Manchester United should the Glazer family be prepared to sell their entire controlling stake in the club, following suggestions that a sale of another part of their holding could be imminent. Sam Wallace reports on the latest hint that the 17-year ownership by the US-based family could be drawing to a close. At the Cincinnati Open, Emma Raducanu performed a demolition job over Victoria Azarenka.

Editor's choice

  1. 'Far from plenty' | The case for why speed limits are 'killing the joy of driving'

  2. Gone in 43 seconds | Why Converse are the world's fastest-selling sneakers

  3. 'Thunder fever' | The reason why storms are making your allergies worse

Business briefing: Ofgem director quits

A director of Ofgem has accused the energy regulator of damaging households by allowing a huge increase in the price cap – and quit her job. Christine Farnish resigned from the watchdog after it allowed suppliers to pile additional costs onto customers, contributing to an expected surge in the cap on gas and electricity bills. Meanwhile, the owner of Madame Tussauds has been hit with a winding-up petition by Experian as the leisure operator seeks to bounce back from lockdowns.

Tonight's dinner

Steak and grain salad with chilli, coriander and mint | Quick and healthy, this dish has three types of green vegetables and fibre-rich buckwheat.

Travel: 'Why I chose France over Center Parcs'

Parents are turning their back on regimented British holiday parks for a back-to-basics style of holiday – and saving thousands of pounds in the process. Forgetting one-size-fits-all cabins and lodges, Rebecca Miles took her family to the French alternative of Center Parcs for a week. She describes how the experience is different (including costing £1,000 less).

And finally... for this morning's downtime

From drought to deluge | We are fast becoming used to the term "extreme weather", but will we start to become familiar with the concept of "extreme gardening"? Tom Brown has a survival guide.

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