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Sector news, 7 - 11 January 2013

Michael Gove warned over introduction of performance-related pay for teachers Guardian, January 7 2013

Unions representing headteachers have given a qualified welcome to the idea of pay grades being based on performance rather than length of service for all teachers. But in their formal responses to the plan to the School Teachers; Review Body the National Association of Head Teachers and Association of School and College Leaders warned the government it could face major difficulties introducing it, as they said pay rises for some could lead to pay cuts or redundancy for others. The unions stressed any changes must be introduced carefully, openly and with sensitivity, with proper training given to those school governing bodies who will make the pay decisions. The teaching unions which represent 90 per cent of teachers have shown vehement opposition to the plan which Michael Gove wants to introduce from next autumn.

Non-EU postgraduate numbers in UK fall for first time in 16 years Guardian, 11 January 2013

The number of postgraduate students travelling from non-EU countries to study at UK universities has fallen for the first time in 16 years. It is feared the government’s immigration crackdown is deterring thousands of students from studying in Britain. In recent years the number of non-EU postgraduates has risen annually by an average of more than 10 per cent but figures from the higher Education Statistical Agency (Hesa) show 1 per cent fall in enrolments in the 2011/12 academic year. Jo Beall, British Council director of education and society, said the fall would be cause alarm among UK vice-chancellors as international students made up the majority of numbers in many postgraduate courses and research teams in science, technology engineering and mathematics. The number of students coming to the UK from China continued to rise, with 11,000 more enrolling in 2011/12 than in he previous year. However, there was a 25% drop in the number from India, and a 13% drop from Pakistan.

A sixth of students achieved firsts last year 10 January, 2013

A record 61,605 undergraduates – one in six – were awarded firsts at the end of their degrees last summer, according to figures published by the Higher Education Statistics Agency. The number of students obtaining a first-class degree increased 16 per cent on the previous year, and is more than double that of 10 years ago – an increase which outstrips the rise in the student population. Two thirds of students were awarded either a first or upper-second degree, with 68 per cent of females achieving the top two grades, compared to 63 per cent of men. But fewer students are going on to postgraduate level, with the figures for 2011-12 5 per cent down on the previous year.

Apprentice market hit as provider is shut down TES, 11 January 2013

Pearson is closing one of the country’s largest training providers at a cost of £120 million and the potential loss of 500 jobs, because it claims that changes to the apprenticeship requirements have made the work financially unviable. Two years ago Pearson bought a collection of apprenticeship providers called Melorio for £99 million, intending to use it to provide UK apprenticeships abroad and extend the company’s reach into teaching. But the international expansion depended on practices that were banned in UK apprenticeships last year: students were recruited on to a largely classroom-based programme with no guarantee of a job, instead of being employed from the start of their apprenticeship. Graham Hoyle, chief executive of the Association of Employment and Learning Providers, said while changes to the funding regime have meant apprenticeship providers are increasingly expected to do more with less, he said there is no widespread financial distress. The University and College Union said the closure showed the risks of the Skills Funding Agency’s policy of only offering large contracts, which is encouraging a consolidation of private training providers.

Figures reveal the changing picture of IfL TES, 11 January 2013

The boycott of the Institute for Learning (IfL) by members of the University and College Union (UCU) led to the FE professional body losing almost half of its fee income, forcing it to rely on government cash to avoid a large deficit, figures reveal. Annual accounts show that the IfL raised just £3 million in the year to the end of March 2012, compared with £5.4 million the previous year, when membership was compulsory and the fees of FE teachers were paid by the government. The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills put in transitional funding of £1.9 million which allowed it to make a small surplus instead of a deficit of nearly £2 million, but this transitional funding will end in April, meaning the IfL will have to cut costs or increase membership. Enrolment previously fell from 181,000 to 87,500. The IfL said it was exploring a range of alternative funding sources and business opportunities.