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Sector news, 21 - 27 September 2014

Ofsted directors’ traineeship drop-out fears FE Week, 26 September 2014

Too many learners are dropping out of traineeships, Ofsted FE and skills director Lorna Fitzjohn warned in an exclusive interview in FE Week. It comes after a report from the National Audit Office (NAO) said just 200 out of 459 eligible training providers who said they would deliver traineeships had recorded starts as of June this year.

Late summer rush on FE loans materialises FE Week, 26 September 2014

A late summer rush on FE loans predicted by the government after a slow uptake earlier in the year has materialised. But there were still almost 5,000 fewer applications by the end of last month compared to the same time last year. Figures released this week by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) showed there were 14,850 applications for FE loans in August, of which 11,830 were processed. An AELP spokesperson said: “It’s an encouraging jump from July’s figures, but not unexpected given seasonal trends. It will be interesting to see if applications hold up as the year progresses.” A BIS spokesperson said: “We will continue to monitor take-up and work with the sector to help them share best practice on how providers have made loans work for them.”

It all adds up FE uk , 25 September 2014

In this article, Charlotte Bosworth, Director of Skills and Employment at exam board OCR, welcomes the recommendations of a new report by the BIS Select Committee into adult literacy and numeracy and urges the uptake of more flexible learning options to support adult learners. The report focused on the alrmingly low levels of adult literacy and numeracy in England.

Universities still recruiting students a month after A-levels Telegraph, 21 September 2014

The Telegraph found the vast majority of universities were still recruiting students more than a month after the publication of A-level results. There were vacancies being advertised on almost 22,000 degree courses, including at Russell Group universities Southampton and Queen Mary, University of London. The scale of late recruitment will prompt concerns that some students may have been admitted despite being unfit for the academic demands of their course. Some universities are also operating a two-tier clearing system, by closing courses to British students while keeping them open for those from outside the EU who can be charged higher fees.

Graduate employment in steep drop, new data suggests BBC, 25 September 2014

There has been a big fall in graduate unemployment in the UK, the latest figures suggest. The Higher Education Careers Service Unit (Hecsu) analysed the destinations of 256,350 new graduates six months after they left university. Some 7.3% were unemployed in January 2014, down from 8.5% in January 2013 and the lowest level since 2008. The figures, published jointly with the Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services, suggest 70% of new graduates were in employment by January 2014. The researchers suggest better employment prospects have resulted in fewer graduates in further study - some 12.4% of the total, down from 13% the year before. Some 5.6% were combining work and study, leaving 7.3% unemployed and 4.7% listed as "other". The figures also suggest more graduates were in professional and managerial work - 66.3% of new graduates, compared with 64.9% the previous year. Fewer were working as retail, catering, waiting and bar staff - down to 13% of the total from 13.7% the previous year.

Universities increasingly take on new students with vocational qualifications instead Independent, 23 September 2014

Growing numbers of teenagers with top-class vocational qualifications are being recruited by UK universities while the number with A-levels dwindle, according to figures released today. A report by UCAS, the university admissions service, show the number of pupils with top A-level passes (a minimum of one A grade and two Bs) has fallen by three per cent this year compared with 2013. Meanwhile, the number holding the BTEC equivalent in passes have risen by 16 per cent to 34,580. The drop in top A-level students coincides with a fall in the number of candidates obtaining A* to B grade passes, as growing numbers of students switch to traditional academic subjects such as maths and science. In addition, it coincides with a fall in the average age of people taking the exam.