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Sector news, 29 April - May 3 2013

Cambridge academics baffled by teacher-training shake-up Guardian, 29 April 2013

In this article Warwick Mansell looks at the government’s changes to teacher training and how many courses now face uncertainty . He speaks to “baffled” Elaine Wilson who runs Cambridge University’s PGCE for secondary school teachers, which recently had an Ofsted report with no areas for improvement but is one of those facing an uncertain future. University courses training England's next generation of teachers had the number of places for which they receive government funding cut dramatically last autumn, as the coalition embarked on a restructuring with the aim of training more teachers on the job in schools. Elaine Wilson said if the core numbers were cut in future there was the real possibility the PGCE would fold. The government says the new system will be more responsive to demand for teachers, but critics say the security of the future supply of teachers will be put at risk by creating a more market-based system, rather than universities being in the driving seat.

University applications fail to recover from tuition fees rise Guardian, 30 April 2013

The number of students applying to start university this autumn has not bounced back to the level seen before the rise in tuition feed, UCA figures say. They show a 7 per cent drop in applications from English students compared with 2010. There was a small rise in applications in January, but since then rates of application have slowed and are down when compared with the same point in 2010 and 2011. The number of UK school-leavers applying to university is down 3.6 per cent on 2010. Applications by EU citizens, who pay the same fees as home students, is down when compared with 2010 (-2.9 per cent). Applications from non-EU students have increased year on year since 2009, rising 5.5 per cent when compared with this time last year.

PhD students 'embarrassed' to be self-fundedTimes Higher, 2 May 2013

Self-funded PhD students can feel “less worthy” than their peers who receive studentships, experiences outlined in a new blog suggest. Posts published on Brains, Time, Money: part-time and self-funded postgraduate study, discusses socio-economic embarrassment, feeling the need to hide funding status and dealing with the financial and time pressures of part-time study. In one of the first posts, Nazia Hussein, a PhD student at the Centre for the Study of Women and Gender at the University of Warwick, wrote that other students were sometimes taken aback at her self-funded, part-time status, and she felt that to some it indicated her research was not worth funding by any relevant organisation, and others thought it made her work less important than theirs.

Europe seeks to mend the 'weak link' of adult skillsTES, 3 May 2013

Tackling the “huge discrepancies” across Europe in the number of adults accessing education is critical to the future prosperity of the continent, education leaders have warned. The European Union is working towards a target of at least 15 per cent of adults (aged 25-64) in learning by 2020, but figures show that participation actually fell between 2006 and 2011. In 2011 the UK was one of six countries that exceeded that target. Speaking in Cardiff last week, Martina Ni Cheallaigh of the European Commission said that adult learning was the “weak link” in EU education. In 2011, the average participation rate was 8.9 per cent, down from 9.5 per cent in 2006. The proportion of adults engaged in learning varied from as low as 1.2 per cent in Bulgaria to 32.3 per cent in Denmark. Participation also decreases substantially in the case of low-skilled and older adults.

Governor backs defiant Taylor FEWeek, 2 May 2013

FE Week reports on the follow-up to City College Coventry’s Ofsted result, which was inadequate, or grade four, across each of the headline fields. The chair of the governors has not refused to sack the principal, Paul Taylor, saying he wanted to turn the college around “rather than debate individuals”. Paul Taylor has also responded on the FE Week website. This story recaps the issues criticised by Ofsted and the fact that the college has been issued with a notice of concern which the SFA says meant it had to take robust and fast action to “remedy the inadequacies identified by Ofsted”. The SFA is currently leading the intervention with the college.