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.

Colleges told: raise standards if you want more cash

Universities will have to agree to regular Ofsted-style inspections in exchange for raising the cap on tuition fees

Leading article: Open season

The Open University is booming. And it doesn't require a degree in economics to grasp why. The price of an OU course is less than half that of a degree from a conventional university. It is also said that young people nowadays are so relaxed about absorbing information digitally that an institution like the OU - once regarded as hopelessly old fashioned - is a perfect fit.

From insomniacs to iTunes: rise of the Open University

A cheap, internet-friendly way to get a degree is attracting a record number of applicants.

Six-year-old girl discovers Asian moth in UK

A shrub-eating moth has been discovered in the UK for the first time - thanks to the keen eye of a six-year-old girl.

Worldwide web of cyberstudents: Online study has become truly international

For most freshers starting university this month, the attraction of becoming an undergraduate is as much about the social life as it is about stepping up a level in academic study. But for many students the campus experience is out of reach, either because of cost, or because career or family commitments make leaving home impossible. For this group of people, distance learning provides an ideal answer, where the power of the internet is harnessed to open up course materials and provide a platform for conversations between students and teachers.

Gender dilemma: Was Semenya really first among equals?

Caster Semenya's 800m gold medal at the World Championships has been tarnished by claims she is a man. Steve Connor, Science Editor, explains the elaborate process that will establish her true gender

Richard Garner: From today, it's a brave new world for students

In one of the bitter ironies of life, it looks today as if the Government could have almost clinched its target of getting 50 per cent of young people into higher education – if only it had provided enough university places.

Record scramble for university courses

Soaring A-level results and student applications tighten screw – even for bright pupils

The Weekend's Television: Single-Handed, ITV1, Sun<br/>Happy Birthday OU &ndash; Forty Years of the Open University, BBC4, Sat<br/>Classic Goldie, BBC2 Fri

I do hope the Connemara tourist board didn't get their hopes up too high with regard to Single-Handed, ITV1's new Sunday-night rural-copper drama. Judging on previous form in this genre, they could be forgiven for having got a little excited at the prospect of a prime-time showcase for the glories of their particular patch of Ireland. After all, what would you have predicted for a Sunday-evening drama about a Dublin policemen returning to his childhood home? A bit of bucolic mischief from some lovable old rascal with a potcheen still, perhaps. Storylines about sheep rustling, and an extended will-they-won't-they plotline in which the hero romances the local barmaid. Sentiment and craic by the bucketful, interspersed with postcard shots of the hills and bays. You can almost imagine them sitting down for a joint viewing, notepad on their knees as they prepare to work out how to lever the tourists into paying a personal visit to Single-Handed country.

Alan Johnson: Labour must embrace voting reform

First-past-the-post is a miserably disempowering electoral system

Teachers go back to school in bid to raise classroom standards

Master's degree will be offered free to all teachers under &pound;30m scheme

Steve Richards: Here's how to embolden our MPs

For a stronger House, we need a separation of the executive and the legislature

VC hopes student adviser will help him get back in touch with his undergraduates

Most students know nothing about the people who run their university. They probably don't know who the vice-chancellor is and they may never have met the board of governors, or know what it does. At the University of Hertfordshire, however, the top dogs are trying to break down the "them and us" divide and to find out more about student life – through student mentors.

Close-up: Holliday Grainger

She's battled vampires; now the young actor is fighting off her uncle...
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Day In a Page

Independent Travel
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
Lake Como St Moritz & the Bernina Express 7 nights from £809pp
Vietnam
Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
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Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

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After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

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After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

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Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

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Homeless Veterans appeal

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Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

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Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

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He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

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Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

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Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

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Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

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Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

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