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Sector News, 09 - 13 February

What employers really, really want.  Education Guardian, 10 February 2009.

The article opens with comments by Sammy Baker, a 20 year old who is Expeditions Co-ordinator for Camps International.  She comments that despite doing English A level, her spelling is appalling and school did nothing to support her in gaining the skills for employment.  Her experience is the norm according to the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES).  “Our members consistently say that new recruits do not have the skills they need to enter the world of work”, says the CBI, and companies are having to finance schemes to bring these skills up-to-scratch.


Lib Dems want better teaching and no fees.  THE, 12 February 2009.

A Lib Dem policy document suggests that institutions that require all lecturers to hold a teaching qualification should be given more public money.  The Investing in Talent, Building the Economy report recommends that Hefce work with QAA to develop recognised qualification that should be first introduced as a component of PhD programmes.

The Independent "Teams take poll positions" is a short leader summarising the positions of the leading political parties.


Winchester restates first principles with ‘generalist’ liberal arts degree.  THE, 12 February 2009.

Very few graduate programmes in the UK offer anything like a liberal education course.  This is the opinion of Nigel Tubbs, Professor of Philosophical and Educational Thought at Winchester University.  Professor Tubbs is not convinced that every student wants a specialist degree.  The university is to launch a liberal arts degree in what will initially be run as one half of a joint honours programme.


HEA boss says rethink the relationship with students.  THE, 12 February 2009.

The head of the Higher Education Academy has called for a “seismic shift" in the way the relationship between students and higher education is viewed.  Paul Ramsden, Chief Executive of HEA said that despite generally positive results in the recent student survey “not everything in the garden was rosy”.  Amongst his criticisms are the results which show that satisfactory ratings for courses varied wildly and half of the students felt that feedback they gave on courses and lecturers would not be acted upon.


EU says co-operation with industry is essential.  THE, 12 February 2009.

Ján Figel, the Commissioner for Education, Training, Culture and Youth said in a recent address to academics and business leaders that the relationship between the two sectors is of vital importance for the wellbeing of Europe.  He further cautioned businesses not to slash education budgets during the economic downturn.


Cameron pledges £100m to encourage new training providers.  TES, FE Focus, 13 February 2009.

As well as promising to simplify funding for colleges, David Cameron has offered to set aside £100m to enable new training providers to enter the market. Mr Cameron was critical of the current Learning and Skills Council who, he says, micro manage colleges and remove the freedom required to respond to local needs.


FE reaches higher levels.  TES, FE Focus, 13 February 2009.

There has been a rise of 52% in the number of FE and sixth form college pupils being accepted on to higher education courses.  Further education colleges accounted for 27% of student intake into HE.  The figures are produced by UCAS and cover the period 2004 to 2008.  Part of the success is put down (amongst other things) to the growth of foundation degrees, the desire by many students to study locally and hence use local universities who are often in partnership with colleges and the general satisfaction of students with their time in FE.

See alsoFE has proved its right to offer bachelor degreesandLet's be proud of our social assets”.  Both stories are “comment” rather than news, the first story arguing the case for colleges to offer vocational degrees, the second celebrating college diversity and their success in delivering HE.


Have your say on sector’s drive for higher quality.  TES, FE Focus, 13 February 2009.

The Learning and Skills Improvement Service (LSIS), has promised personalised consultation on its statement of strategic direction, which was published this week.  As well as the normal letter and e-mail responses, LSIS is planning consultation events on a regional basis.  Three events are published: Bristol on February 17th, London on February 20th and Leeds on February 23rd.  Roger McClure from LSIS comments, “ we have to take ownership and believe in what we are doing”.

Access to the consultation document can found on the LSIS web site.