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Sector News, 03 - 10 July 2009

‘It’s scary, I can tell you’.  Education Guardian, 07 July 2009.

Young people fresh out of education are suffering in the recession.  Nearly 1 million 16-24 year olds are now out of work or not in training or education, Neets as they are known. The biggest victims appear to those young people who could be classed as disadvantaged.  Louise Tickle of the Guardian talks to four young people about their situation.

Study highlights gloomy prospects for graduates.  The Independent, 07 July.

As with the above story, the Independent highlights issues caused by the recession but in this case the issues concern graduates.  It is predicted that there will be 24 per cent fewer jobs this year than in 2008.  Furthermore, graduates who have recently obtained employment complain that their employer is not giving them the work they expected and they are likely to quit when the economy revives.

This story is also coverd in the Daily Telegraph under "Graduates suffer fresh blow as job numbers fall by 24 per cent".

Picking up the pieces.  Education Guardian, 07 July 2009.

Doncaster College’s finances are in a parlous state and its recent Ofsted report rated achievements and standards at grade 4 or inadequate.  There are currently three colleges deemed inadequate, two higher education institutions with further education provision and four other FE colleges who have more than 25% of long term provision deemed to be below acceptable standards.  This article investigates the opinions of principals involved in trying to change the fortunes of failing colleges.

 V-Cs say extra money is ‘essential’ to support any rise in student numbers.  THE, 09 July 2009.

The Government and Lord Mandelson in particular are coming under pressure to support the extra 10,000 students expected in HE this year with further funding.   Currently universities face a freeze on funding and John Denham as Universities Secretary instructed Hefce to bear down on over recruitment.

Quango cuts put Hefce in danger.  THE, 09 July 2009.

“Liam Byrne, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, has asked all departments to review their quangos with a view to possible merger or abolition”.  David Cameron has promised to cut the number of quangos should the Conservative party come to power at the next election.   Andrew Halenby of the think tank REFORM says that Hefce’s role should be taken back to a government department.  However, the Conservatives say that they have no plans to remove Hefce.

Clout of business department will boost sector, committee head says.  THE, 09 July 2009.

Slowly, there is developing a view that universities might be better off by being in the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform.  Lord Mandelson has attended a UUK board where he assured board members that there was no truth that universities would be lost within the workings of his department.  “Peter Luff, chairman of the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee (BISC), said universities should not be too sorry about the loss of the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills because it 'lacked clout'. He added that universities would always play 'second fiddle' to schools in a department for education”.

Restructure or die, funding chief tells cash-hit universities.  THE, 09 July 2009.

Steve Eagen, deputy chief executive of Hefce, has told an international conference in Denmark that institutions around the world were having to cope with the financial crisis.  He further added, that unless universities say what they are really good at and remove the things that do not matter, they will not survive.

Anglo-Indian MSc savaged by QAA.  THE, 09 July 2009.

The Quality Assurance Agency has pointed to a string of failures in an audit of Cranfield University’s programme in clinical research.

Medics riled by tests of professional behaviour.  THE, 09 July 2009.

Durham University has proposed a method of measuring students’ fitness to practice using something called the Conscientiousness Index. Andrew Kimmond, welfare chair of the British Medical Association’s Medical Students Committee, is quoted as saying that there is an unhealthy obsession with fitness to practice. “It is an oxymoron to suggest that we have to learn professionalism and then measure the way we behave from the beginning."   The university have responded by saying that students will not be “spied on” and that the index’s focus was on areas that were “simple to measure”.

To provide teaching of quality, we must get back to our roots.  THE, 09 July 2009.

Opinion, Thomas Docherty, professor of English and comparative literature, University of Warwick.

Thomas Docherty argues that the quality agenda does not improve the quality of teaching and it ”damage(s) the community of free thought that is properly called teaching and learning”.

Tories warn Ofqual A-level accreditation remit may be thrown on quango bonfire.  TES, 10 July 2009.

The Conservative party are considering removing Ofqual from the A-level accreditation process. They believe that giving the role to exam boards and universities would raise standards.  It is believed by the Conservative education team that raising the bar at A level would have a knock on effect on GCSE quality.  However, assessment experts warn that such a move could lead to a free for all that would have the opposite effect with standards falling.

Adult skills contracts to get more competitive.  TES, FE Focus, 10 July 2009.

Bidders will be allowed to undercut colleges and other providers if minister’s plans to allow some contracts to be bid for on price, rather than cost per learner, are realised.  Colleges and training providers have expressed doubts that such a move will work without compromising quality.

Building bids: anger over minimum compensation.  TES, FE Focus, 10 July 2009.

The Learning and Skills Council (LSC) have said that it will not compensate colleges who have been caught up in the capital funding debacle by more than the minimum legal requirement.   College leaders have accused the LSC of taking an immoral stance and short changing colleges for problems caused by LSC mismanagement.