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Sector news, 14 - 18 January 2013

FE colleges’ passage to India FE Week, 18 January 2013

A group of colleges is establishing a permanent team in New Delhi as part of an Association of Colleges (AoC) initiative to help the British FE Sector expand into the Indian market. AoC In India will act as a best practice hub for colleges looking to offer their expertise to meet the growing demand for vocational skills training in India. FE Minister Matthew Hancock and 50 delegates from colleges will attend the launch at the British High Commissioner’s Residence in New Delhi on Tuesday 22 January. The FE Week team will then report on the visit on their website.

Graduate job opportunities shrink amid economic uncertainty Guardian, 14 January 2013

Leading British companies recruited fewer graduates in 2012 than 2011, according to a study of 100 top companies, the first drop in three years and a sign of continued economic uncertainty in the corporate sector. The number of graduate level jobs among those companies fell 0.8 per cent, with the biggest reductions at investment banks and accounting firms, according to a report by market research company High Fliers. The biggest single graduate recruiter was a Teach First, formed in 2002, which trains graduates as teachers for schools in deprived areas. It provided 1,260 job vacancies, ahead of Deloitte and PwC. The companies surveyed said they expected overall vacancies to go up 2.7 per cent this year, but there is such strong competition virtually all are expected to be taken by graduates with extensive experience on work placements or holiday work, often with the same firm. Recruiters at more than half the organisations said those with no relevant work experience would have nearly no chance of being considered.

Warwick University 'top target' for graduate employersDaily Telegraph, 14 January 2013

The University of Warwick has come top of a list of universities targeted by the country’s biggest graduate recruiters, according to a new survey. The UK's top investment banks, law firms and consultancies are focusing on finding graduate recruits at a small handful of elite universities, the study by High Flier Research found. The majority of the country’s top 100 graduate employers will target students at 20 or fewer universities, with one in five firms scaling back funding for their graduate recruitment programmes compared with last year. Warwick was the top targeted, followed by Nottingham, Manchester, Cambridge and Bristol.

Teachers' pay rises to be based on performance, Michael Gove confirmsGuardian, 17 January 2013

Teachers will start to get performance-related pay from September, education secretary Michael Gove has confirmed, a move unions warned would demoralise the profession and be as likely to produce salary cuts as increases. The School Teachers’ Review Body had recommended headteachers have more freedom on deciding pay, which Gove argued would reward good staff and help schools in disadvantaged areas to recruit and keep the best teachers. Wide pay bands will be maintained as a general reference, but the new system will end teachers’ automatic progression to new national pay points according to their length of service. The teaching unions criticised the move and said predictable pay scales are one of the main attractions to the profession for new entrants.

Universities to reach out to seven-year-oldsGuardian, 17 January 2013

Universities will offer campus trips and workshops to pupils as young as seven, as part of a new drive to encourage young people from poor backgrounds to consider staying on in education once they have finished school. Universities that charge more than £6,000 in fees have to outline how they will spend funding allocated to attracting disadvantaged students, and for the first time, the Office for Fair Access (Offa) is urging them to work with primary school children in 2014-15. Universities that take the fewest students from non-traditional backgrounds will have to spend the most on widening access. Dr Wendy Piatt, director general of the Russell Group, said targeting younger children would help widen access, but that cutting bursaries could hurt poorer university students.

College leavers' hard road to final destinationTimes Higher, 17 January 2013

Students who complete full-time first degrees at a further education college in England are paid £4,000 a year less on average than their university counterparts and are at least 50 per cent more likely to be unemployed, according to new research in the Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education in Further Education Colleges report from the Higher Education Funding Council for England. They surveyed students six months after qualifying and found that 16 per cent of college students who got degrees in 20101-11 were “assumed to be unemployed” compared with 10 per cent who had studied at universities. College students earned a median salary of £15,000 after graduation, but university leavers were paid £19,000 a year. Nick Davy, higher education policy manager at the Association of Colleges, said that the lower salaries were to be expected because college students were more likely to study subjects that had lower entry salary levels.

AoC hits back after Ofsted 'castigates' collegesTES, 18 January 2013

The Association of Colleges has accused Chief Inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw of failing to provide evidence for his criticism of colleges. No colleges were rated as “outstanding” for teaching and learning in 2011-12, and he said the sector was focusing on vocational courses of “little real value” and needed to change to provide “high quality and relevant provision”. Sir Michael is to appear before the Commons Education Select Committee next month, and an AoC report seen by TES says they believe his report contains some “significant errors” and “important omissions” which undermine the credibility of some of its conclusions. AoC chief executive Martin Doel said Ofsted’s approach was “difficult to translate” to the FE sector.

Helping SEN students learn the ways of the world of workTES, 18 January 2013

Colleges are pioneering a way to help students with learning difficulties into work as part of wide-ranging new rights for people with special educational needs (SEN) after they leave school. In a pilot programme, 14 colleges are offering "supported internships" for students who have completed their studies and need help to move into the world of work. Staff contact employers to secure the unpaid placements, offer training for the workplace and send in a support worker to assist each intern in the job every day for up to 12 months. The Department for Education is spending £3 million on the pilot, and wants to allow all colleges to offer the programme from September.

Clawback ‘possible’ on £91m overpaymentFE Week, 18 January 2013

FE Week has revealed that providers who had a share in a £91m Skills Funding Agency overpayment could be asked to hand back some of the cash while current allocations could also be reduced. The SFA revealed this month that some providers had received funding for education in the 2011-12 academic year which they had not delivered, totalling £91 million. The SFA has said it is looking at cutting allocations for 2012-13 and was also in discussions about seeking a clawback.