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College pedigree of hit show's finalists proves FE has the X Factor

Newcastle College now hopes winner Joe McElderry will complete his diploma

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Newcastle College now hopes winner Joe McElderry will complete his diploma

As 19 million people held their breath to see who won The X Factor, one winner was already assured: colleges, who supplied all three finalists.

Joe McElderry was the victor, and Newcastle College pulled out all the stops to help him bag the prize of a pound;1 million record contract - even projecting giant illuminations on to the sides of its buildings to remind Geordies to vote.

The 18-year-old auditioned for the show two years ago, but felt he was too inexperienced. But with a year of a BTec national diploma in performing arts under his belt, he had the confidence to win.

Now the college hopes he will complete his education, even as he gets a taste of the high life.

Course leader Steve Halliday said: "Joe is in his second year and is determined to finish. Fortunately, he can do it over the internet, so he can finish it in the LA sunshine rather than in Newcastle.

"I don't know what Simon Cowell will think of it. He probably won't let Joe reply to his emails."

Stacey Solomon, 20, who came third in the contest, is another performing arts student at Havering College of Further and Higher Education. Simon Gray, her lecturer, said: "I feel very proud of her. I believe she will become the biggest success story out of all three finalists."

Second-placed Olly Murs, 25, is also a former college student, having studied sports and leisure at Braintree College in Essex.

Many of the other contestants also studied at college. Jamie Archer, 34, attended South Thames College, while 18-year-old Rachel Adedeji took a musical theatre course at Greenwich Community College. And Lucie Jones, 18, who was ejected from the contest by the Jedward bandwagon, is a student at St David's Catholic College in Cardiff.

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