FE news at a glance

Merged body aims to boost college sport

An organisation has been set up to increase participation and investment in college sport in England. AoC Sport, run by the Association of Colleges, aims to champion college sport by supporting and representing further education colleges and encouraging more people to take part. The body, which was formed through the merger of British Colleges Sport and the AoC sport policy team, was launched during the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, at which English college students won a total of 17 medals. More than 18,000 college students already take part in sports leagues and more than 15,000 in cup events.

Dragon fired up over 14-19 work experience

Entrepreneur Piers Linney from BBC Two television show Dragons' Den has launched an initiative aimed at transforming work experience for 14- to 19-year-olds. Not-for-profit organisation Workinsight.org hopes to provide multiple work experience placements for students regardless of background. It is developing a digital platform to connect students with employers, who will offer short taster periods of work experience with no selection criteria. The pilot, being run with two London schools and one college, has gained support from Microsoft and has been praised by employment minister Esther McVey, who said the scheme would make it easier for young people to get the skills and experience that employers required.

Sector braced for tough new immigration rules

Strict rules being imposed on educational institutions sponsoring students from outside the European Union will harm FE colleges more than universities, it has been claimed. The government has announced that from November, as part of a wider immigration crackdown, tougher rules will be introduced for universities and colleges that sponsor international students to study in the UK. But Martin Doel, chief executive of the Association of Colleges, said: "Entry clearance officers are often unfamiliar with FE colleges and the types of courses they offer. This means people hoping to study at an FE college are sometimes refused entry to the UK."

Apprenticeship funding questions go unanswered

A government response to questions on apprenticeship funding reform has failed to alleviate concerns from the FE sector. Ministers want to put funding in the hands of employers and have consulted on two ways of achieving this: through pay-as-you-earn or through a new system of credits. A question-and-answer document published last week confirms that employers will not have to meet the full costs of training up front and will be able to "draw down" government funding. But Stewart Segal, chief executive of the Association of Employment and Learning Providers, said that concerns still remained about cash flow and bureaucracy.

The sixth forms rivalling Eton for Oxbridge success

Two sixth-form colleges are leading the way in sending students to Oxbridge, according to a study. Research by social mobility charity the Sutton Trust reveals that in 2011-12 two sixth-form colleges and three private schools had as many successful applicants to the universities of Oxford and Cambridge as 1,800 state schools and colleges across England. Between them, sixth-form colleges Hills Road in Cambridge and Peter Symonds in Winchester, and private schools Westminster, St Paul's and Eton, educated about 260 Oxbridge entrants. The Sutton Trust said the two sixth-form colleges had "excellent reputations" and had become popular with professional parents who wanted to improve their children's chances of attending the elite universities.

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