Arts and Entertainment

Bob Dylan, I can take him or leave him. Sorry, but it's true. Oh I get that Bob is a big deal. You can bang on all you like about how he's a peerless songwriter and poet and maverick who changed popular culture for ever, and I will nod sagely in agreement.

Clearing might be a harrowing process but don't give up on a degree

A shortage of university places means clearing will be a harrowing process this year. But there are plenty of options for students who are turned away

Shirley Valentine/Educating Rita, Trafalgar Studios, London

Willy Russell's scabrous Scousers, Shirley Valentine (Saint Joan of the fitted kitchen units, with all her nosy-neighbour voices) and hairdresser Rita of the Open University, are still going strong after a quarter of a century. They are now as engraved in the national consciousness as Maggie May, resilient streetwalker of the Liverpool docks, or the battling socialist MP Bessie Braddock. This Menier Chocolate Factory transfer, for a summer season at the Trafalgar Studios, presents Russell's two plays in all their wit and vivacity.

Women's Hockey: Forget St Trinian's, hockey just got serious

The women's game is transformed. England have shot up to fifth in the world and a London medal is realistic.

Flexibility is key: Distance learning can save you time and money by fitting your training round your life

Nick Gianissis, 42, was working as an air cabin crew member when he decided to retrain as a teacher. By enrolling in a distance learning course with The Open University (OU), he was able to earn his first degree while flying around the world, graduating with an MSc in social sciences last October.

Minister joins backlash against Osborne's sickness benefit cuts

George Osborne faced anger and dismay last night over his plans to cut sickness benefits, with even a government minister joining the backlash.

Online degrees: A model worth emulating or a plan that risks creating a two-tier system?

David Willetts wants more people to take degrees by distance learning at further education colleges. Lucy Hodges looks at what it could involve

Today Leicester. But in 2018... Mars

Could this contraption succeed where the Beagle failed and find extra-terrestrial life?

Fostering qualifications: Continuing professional development provides benefits for all concerned

When Rob Ford started fostering with his partner six years ago, he had visions of little orphan Annie turning up on his doorstep. "We thought a bit of love and care would sort these children out and they'd be terribly grateful and would love us forever," he laughs. "We were naive in the extreme. One of our first placements – a mother and baby – ended up with the young mother becoming violent, then walking out and leaving the children with us. It was a steep learning curve."

From Leicester with love: Distance learning is fast becoming a popular way to achieve an MBA

Distance learning has opened up management courses to a range of students who don't fit the usual profile, but none so surprising as the nun from a closed monastery in Cyprus who enrolled with the University of Leicester.

Liz Hoggard: Say no to campus life out of season

If you want culture from the inside, a B&Bat Cambridge might not offer it

Open Eye: A lay view of history

'Seven Ages of Britain' began on BBC1 on Sunday. Yvonne Cook talks to presenter, David Dimbleby

We need a solution to fund part-time students

The Independent Review of Higher Education Funding and Student Finance has just started taking evidence. Its findings will reshape the financial context of higher education over the coming decade

Even if we found aliens, how would we communicate?

The great Italian physicist, Enrico Fermi, called it a paradox. If life is not unique to Earth, and with billions of stars in just our own galaxy, then there must be many millions of Earth-like planets out there populated by intelligent beings. So why haven’t we seen them?

Brandon Robshaw: It's time to ditch written exams for students and go digital

All this week, all over the country, students have been sitting in serried ranks, crouched over desks, manually driving biros over screeds of virgin paper, to the accompaniment of the stifled yawns and squeaking shoes of invigilators. The exams in question are modules of the AS and A2 papers, and they continue into February, in subjects ranging from archaeology to travel and tourism; yet this is no more than a precursor, an amuse-gueule to the grande bouffe in the summer, when literally millions of students, at GCSE, A-level, and indeed degree level will undergo the same ordeal. This ritual has gone on, unchanged in essence, since Cambridge University first introduced written exams in 1792. But isn't it time we re-examined the whole notion of examinations?

David Taylor: MP who fought to improve primary health care for cancer patients

Somehow or another, visiting Parliamentary colleagues have a sixth sense about the relationship between their host Member of Parliament and those whom he or she represents. In 2003, in my capacity as Father of the House of Commons, I was invited by the England Central Woodlands Project to open one of their new forest developments, part of which was in the North-West Leicestershire constituency. David Taylor met me on site, and it immediately became apparent that he had an excellent rapport with both his constituents and the local and national forestry community. Quite simply, he was not only respected, but loved – yes it is possible for a politician to be loved – by local people of many different party allegiances. As he drove me in his car back to London it was confirmed to me what a serious and thoughtful socialist he was.

Latest stories from i100
Career Services

Day In a Page

Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Seven Cities of Italy
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Prague, Budapest and Vienna
Lake Garda
3.	Provence 6 nights B&B by train from £599pp
Prices correct as of 12 March 2015
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor