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Sector news, 11 - 17 May 2014

Career development loans: are they a good way to fund your master's? Guardian, 13 May 2014

This article by Maya Oppenheim looks at the option of using a career development loan (CDL) to fund a taught master’s degree. She said they seem a good option with no interest to pay while studying, but there are things to consider. The number of students undertaking postgraduate study has fallen following a rise in course fees, and the number of part-time students has fallen even further, but there has been a rise in CDL applications. However the University and College Union has argued that "high interest rates, non-income contingent payback terms and the need for a good credit record" mean that they are not suitable for everyone. UCU also says students from less advantaged socio-economic backgrounds tend to be more risk-averse and the benefits postgraduate qualifications can bring tend to be more skewed towards advantaged learners. After the course finishes, the loan operates as a normal bank loan with the student fully liable for repayment, which can take up to five years, gaining interest as it goes.

10 things you need to know about e-learning Guardian, 14 May 2014

The article looks at internet-based education, which it says offers everything from a free maths lecture to a full course on ancient Roman history, but has its critics. The subjects covered include the variety of courses on offer, blended learning, where the internet fits in mainstream education and the growth in Moocs.

Governors get three-point college improvement plan FE Week, 12 May 2014

College governors have been given a three-point improvement plan in a joint 157 Group and Ofsted report on good practice in the sector. The report advises governors to “be clear about what constitutes outstanding teaching, learning and assessment, and look at each component of the definition separately.” It also says governors should take part in their college’s quality monitoring cycle, “focusing on the self-assessment report and establishing small ad hoc groups of governors to review evidence and progress as necessary”.