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Sector News, 31 May - 04 June 2010

George Osborne's £6.25bn spending cuts – at a glance.  Education Guardian, 31 May 2010.

This is a story from 24th May which we missed, but thought it worth reporting.

The Guardian’s report on the impending cuts to education provides the following list:    

• Schools, 16 to 19 year olds and Sure Start funding protected.

• £670m savings in the Department for Education.

• £80m saved by abolishing schools technology agency Becta and other savings
in education quangos.

• £50m will be invested in further education colleges, particularly
building programmes.

• £150m extra funding for 50,000 new adult apprenticeship places at
small and medium-sized companies.

• There will be 10,000 fewer university places for this autumn than had been promised by Labour, this at a time of record demand. Applications are up 16.5% from last year.

Vocational students left in the dark as qualifications undergo reform.  Education Guardian, 01 June 2010.

Students and college managers are angry and bemused by the chaos caused by the reform of vocational qualifications.  Students who have worked on existing courses do not know if they will be able to complete or whether their course will have any recognition in the near future.  Clearly most cannot afford to re-start their training on a new course, especially those who are close to finishing their current one.  There is specific concern at the threat to scrap NVQ 3 without allowing a lead in time for new qualifications.

New film by young carers hopes to educate teachers.  Education Guardian, 01 June 2010.

Headed by the story of Sami, this article explains the issues that young people face when they have to care for disabled parents.  In order to bring to the attention of teachers why these young carers behave in the way they do, a new film has been brought out showing how difficult life is for these young people. A video trailer of the film can be seen on the above link.

Comparability of standards impossible and wrong, Hepi says.  THE, 03 June 2010.

Hepi (Higher Education Policy Institute), a higher education think tank, says that achieving the same standards in degrees awarded by different universities is impossible and it should not be attempted.  Roger Browne, former head of the Higher Education Quality Council, says that it would be ridiculous to expect that the outcomes from Oxford and Cambridge universities should match other universities with fewer resources and lower entry criteria.  The argument is not accepted by a select committee of MPs who accuse the sector of defensive complacency and argue that employers want to know that a 2:1 from any university means the same thing.

UK influence abroad at risk from lack of overseas study.  THE 03 June 2010.

Concern is being expressed over the facts that about 500,000 international students come to the UK for a university education but only 15,000 to 20,000 go in the other direction.   The loss of modern languages has not helped a parlous situation where most students do not see an overseas educational experience as necessary.  An effect of this could be to see the UK lose its influence abroad.

‘Blunt’ minister takes Welsh sector to task.  THE, 03 June 2010.

Leighton Andrews has expressed his disquiet at finding that 52 per cent of university funding in Wales is spent on support services.  He was commenting on a study carried out by Pricewaterhouse Cooper which also reported that fewer than half of university staff in Wales are involved in teaching or research.  The outburst has not been totally supported by academics in Wales who comment that they doubt the statistics.

Making the unmeasurable visible: philosophers unite to fight back.  THE, 30 June 2010.

Academics claim that the current threat to philosophy in universities comes about from a capitalist’s fear of things that cannot be measured.  At an event at London’s Institute of Contemporary Arts, protagonists made it clear that philosophy and sociology were under threat from cuts and managerial marketisation.

Features in this week’s THE:

Attractive forces at work”, argues that being brilliant academically is not enough, if you want to be successful you have cultivate your erotic capital.

Through’ the keyhole’ utopia”, Rachel Adams on the experience of the art installation “This Progress” which offered a space where academics could converse.

Nothing to lose but the washing up”, Sally Feldman looks back on the 1960s when rebellion was everywhere.

At last, Obama meets Corbett in new English language exam.  TES, 04 June 2010.

“Reality TV, stand up comedy routines, political speeches and chat show hosts’ interview techniques will feature in material for the new English [GCSE] exam” 

The TES reports that OCR believes that whilst candidates are already given the opportunity to study speeches there is a gap left by not studying spontaneous or transcribed speech.

New FE minister hails ‘beginning of the end’ for Train to Gain.  TES, FE Focus, 04 June 2010.

John Hayes, minister for further education and skills has vowed to scrap Train to Gain over the next few years.  Money is already earmarked for diversion to other apprenticeships schemes as part of a scheme which the Government says will provide more apprenticeships.  Mr Hayes holds the opinion that the £112 million spent on the brokerage system is wasteful, that apprenticeship schemes are tried and tested and that the Government will reach its 10,000 new apprenticeship target.

Pricey pension schemes put private firms off FE investment.  TES, FE Focus, 04 June 2010.

A KPMG report “Value for Money through Infrastructure Change”, states that there is considerable interest in the private sector to invest and take over the running of colleges.  However, the interest wanes when faced with the reality of what KPMG see as expensive final salary pension schemes.   The group recommends a radical overhaul of the FE sector so that it can deliver better value for money.  Unless this happens, says the group, as many as 50 of the country’s 270 general further education colleges could close.