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Department defends using training money for university grants

The Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills has defended use of Train to Gain money for university student grants, saying that over two years FE has received more funding than anticipated.

Dius was criticised by MPs for a lack of transparency in the way it transferred Pounds 49 million of underspent cash for FE to cover a higher education shortfall in 2007-08.

But in its response to a report by the select committee that scrutinises Dius, the Government said transfers to the Learning and Skills Council budget this year mean the net gain to FE is Pounds 144 million.

It said that the 2008-09 spending was not finalised and the position could change, but that high demand for Train to Gain this year meant its budget was likely to be spent on the intended purpose.

The department also responded to criticism that it was not living up to the "innovation" part of its name by saying that it was using social community websites, such as Twitter and Flickr, to communicate with the public and was talking to student about finance issues through the social networking site Bebo.

Dius said it was also co-ordinating department-wide debates on policy using online forums, while public debates on the informal adult learning strategy had been conducted on blogs.

[XX] Britannia rules the waves: Cornwall College is helping to train Falmouth's gig racing team before the world gig championships in May in the Isles of Scilly. Russell Lawrance, the college's director of sport, devised a 25-point training programme to increase the rowers' strength and endurance. The sport was born out of the centuries-old competition to row harbour pilots out to ships: the first team to land the pilot got the fee.

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