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Assembly to poach college stalwarts;FE focus

SEVERAL vacancies should appear in colleges following the Welsh National Assembly election on May 6, as successful candidates leave their previous jobs.

Three of the four main parties have drawn would-be members from further education. Rob Humphreys, the Swansea University lecturer who co-ordinates the community university project in the Dulais Valley, is reckoned to have a very good chance as a regional list candidate for the Liberal Democrats in South Wales West.

His Swansea colleague Hywel Francis, creator of the community university programme, is unlikely to join him.

But Cardiff's tertiary institution Coleg Glan Hafren can count on advertising two vacancies. Both Liberal Democrat Jenny Randerson and Conservative Jonathan Morgan should win election directly.

The Coleg Hafren duo head their respective party lists for South Wales Central region.

The Conservatives' lists for the three South Wales regions are headed by candidates in their 20s with Morgan, 24, the youngest. European officer for the last year at CGH, he previously worked for the Welsh colleges' organisation Fforwm.

Ms Randerson, currently a cross-departmental manager at CGH, is guaranteed a high profile in the Assembly as her party's spokesperson on education. After 23 years at CGH she is looking forward to the change of role.

"Twenty-three years is a long time to be doing anything, and the past five years have been particularly tough. Previously the changes we experienced normally brought some benefits along with problems, but things have now got extremely tight."

She points to the continuing funding gap per student between Wales and England, and says: "There must be an improvement if we are to address the lifelong learning agenda. You can't reach the sort of students the Govern-ment wants to encourage cheaply and you have to accept that there will be some disappointing outcomes alongside the successes."

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