This week’s news in brief

University training coup

Universities are set to play a much bigger role in professional education and staff training, according to a strategy document produced by the Higher Education Funding Council for England. Skills packages tailored to meet the needs of employers are to be developed as part of a £12m investment in three new projects.

Private health cost scare

Uncertainty over cancer treatments among private medical insurers could lead to significant financial consequences for employers providing private health insurance schemes, according to consultant Watson Wyatt. The licensing and use of drugs, including cancer treatments such as Herceptin, are increasing, with the availability of such drugs already resulting in a debate about their potential cost to the NHS.

EU cross-border services

The European Parliament has approved the Services Directive, which makes it easier for a wide range of providers to do business across borders. It is widely seen as one of the most important EU directives for a decade. The government said the landmark agreement would be worth up to £5bn a year to the UK economy and create up to 135,000 jobs.

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