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Sector news, 27 February - 2 March 2012

Universities scramble for information on postgraduates  The Guardian, 27 February 2012

A report on postgraduate education from the 1994 Group of leading research universities says something must be done quickly to stop courses being wiped out by falling demand that a shortage of student funding could bring. There are concerns that next year’s increases in undergraduate fees could mean that students graduating with thousands of pounds worth of debts are unwilling to take on more debt as postgrads, especially as no loans are currently available at this level. The report says little is known about postgraduate students and it calls for more effort to find out about their backgrounds to monitor the participation of different social and economic groups. It is still unclear what institutions will decide to do about raising postgraduate fees in line with those for undergraduates.

Students should do 10-week summer internship, report recommends The Guardian, 27 February 2012

Every student should have the opportunity to do an internship as part of their degree, a government-commissioned report says. It is suggested that every undergraduate should do a 10-12 week internship in the summer holiday. Sir Tim Wilson, author of the review, said internships were being used as part of an extended interview process. Firms that offered paid internships should be supported by the government through a tax credit or grant, and universities should divert some of the funds intended to widen poorer students’ access to higher education to support unpaid internships, it is suggested.

Exam boards ordered to tighten up four GCSEs The Guardian, 24 February 2012

Exam boards have been ordered to tighten up GCSEs in English literature, maths, history and geography, amid concerns it is becoming easier for pupils to pass. Ofqual announced it was making the changes to ensure students studied the whole curriculum, after concerns they were only studying topics likely to come up in exams.

New bursaries won't sweeten the pill of tuition fees TES, 2 March 2012

This article examines the facts behind last week’s announcement of bursaries of £1,000 to be made available to up to 1,000 trainees studying for either a diploma or a level 6 PGCE in FE teaching. Last November FE minister John Hayes had announced plans for bursaries to help FE teachers cope with their rising tuition fees. James Noble Rogers, executive director of the Universities' Council for the Education of Teachers, said a lot of trainees would lose out. About 20,000 trainee FE teachers are taken on each year and almost half will receive no support from the new scheme. Tuition fees for FE teacher training will rise to an average of £6,000-8,000 from September. Mr Noble Rogers fears it could have a serious impact on teacher supply for the sector.

 Hello, it's Ofsted. We were just wondering, is now a good time? TES, 2 March 2012

The plans for no-notice Ofsted inspections of FE provision are revised to be more realistic, as it is accepted that students may not be on site if inspectors turn up completely unannounced.


Review into short apprenticeship to conclude by April

New enquiry panel to review poor apprenticeship providers


Office for National Statistics frees FE colleges from central government