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Sector news, 10 - 21 December 2012

Gender gap in university applications widens further after fees rise Guardian, 14 December 2012

Women are a third more likely to go to university than men, according to a Ucas report, widening the gender gulf in higher education. Demand for places in general fell this October when fees were introduced, but the fall in the number of men applying was about twice that of women, with entry rates for both at 24.6 per cent and 32.5 per cent respectively.

Quality badge could stamp out shoddy providers TES, 14 December 2012

Chartered status for colleges and training providers could be used to crack down on subcontracted teaching and training deals that offer poor value and are not in the interests of students. Proposals for the criteria for chartered status written by the government include at least 10 new measures of quality, student voice, employer engagement, contribution to the community and transparency. Colleges aiming for chartered status would have any subcontracting arrangements examined to make sure they are managed effectively and provide clear benefits for students or employers. Subcontracting has boomed since the Skills Funding Agency (SFA) refused to offer any direct contracts below £500,000.

£270m to rid colleges of chips off the old blocks TES, 14 December 2012

An extra £270 million for new buildings in FE was announced in the Chancellor's Autumn Statement, as government research revealed that more than a third of colleges have substandard campuses. The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) said up to 800,000 students may be taught in outdated or temporary buildings. Four per cent of buildings are judged "inoperable", while a further third are "poor". Half of all colleges have some buildings that are substandard. The figures reveal the impact of the collapse of Labour's Building Colleges for the Future programme. By 2012, only 23 per cent of college buildings should have remained to be renovated, instead of more than a third.