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Sector news, 10 - 14 September 2012

University chiefs fear for the future after admissions chaos The Guardian, Monday 10 September 2012

Universities have been forced to lower their offer grades in the frantic rush to fill places this summer, and now many vice-chancellors say this was the most "chaotic" and "uncertain" admissions round they have ever experienced. Elite universities have criticised the government for failing to predict what looks like a dramatic fall in the numbers of top students. Some old and new universities have struggled to meet recruitment targets and there are warnings some less popular subjects could be cut. The University of Southampton, a member of the elite Russell Group, has said it is 600 students down on last year, which vice chancellor Don Nutbeam called “a wake-up call for the entire university community”. Other universities have admitted dropping offer grades to fill places. A week after results day Ucas said applicants were down by almost 30,000 on last year.  


Children from immigrant families 'face significant challenges' in UK schools The Guardian, Tuesday 11 September 2012

Children from immigrant families in the UK face "significant challenges" in schools which are among the most socially segregated in the developed world, a major annual report has found. According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, children from immigrant as well as poorer backgrounds are more likely to be clustered in disadvantaged schools than their counterparts in other countries such as France, Sweden and the Netherlands. The latest Education at a Glance report found that 80 per cent of children of immigrant families in the UK were being taught in schools with large numbers of other immigrant or disadvantaged pupils, the highest proportion of any country in the survey and significantly above the OECD average of 68%. The UK was more positively viewed on social mobility, with 41% of 25- to 34-year-olds attaining a higher level of education than their parents, compared with an OECD average of 37%.


Labour warns of 'scars' in FE loans system TES, 14 September 2012

Shadow FE minister Gordon Marsden has criticised the readiness of the Student Loans Company to process "more complex" FE loan applications when they begin next year. In a Commons debate on higher education and FE fees, Mr Marsden warned that there is a risk of more of the "scars" caused by failings in the system for HE loans, which led some students to experience long delays. He said the system was inevitably more complex than HE loans because of the varying start date, length and cost of FE courses, and no central administration similar to UCAS. He said the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills expected a fall in student numbers of at least 20 per cent and perhaps up to 45 per cent, and would affect the viability of many college courses. About two thirds of students who will be affected by FE loans are women, according to official statistics.


34 employers share £67m from skills funding TES, 14 September 2012

The transfer of up to £250 million of government skills funding to employers, who will be able to directly commission their own training, will begin with 34 businesses sharing £67 million, it was announced this week. The first successful bidders, including Siemens, BAE Systems and Nissan, will more than match this funding by contributing a combined total of £98 million, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) said. A total of 11,000 new apprenticeships will be created. It is the first time that employers will make funding decisions, instead of money passing to colleges and training providers. A key requirement for the bids was that they drew in extra funding. However, BIS confirmed that employers will be able to use “in kind” contributions, such as equipment, premises and employee time off for training.


Money mishaps drive teen drop outs TES, 14 September 2012

More than half of 17-year-olds are in debt or have previously taken out loans, it has been revealed in a new report by MPs which calls for greater education in personal finance. The report by an all-party parliamentary group said students are dropping out of their courses because they cannot manage their finances. In a survey of more than 300 colleges, 84 per cent said some teenagers failed to complete their courses because of problems managing their money.