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FE news at a glance

Sell land to pay debt, West Cheshire College told

The FE commissioner has told West Cheshire College to sell off one of its campuses to deal with its debt. David Collins said the institution was in a "very difficult position" because of mistakes made in relation to the size, location and funding of its new buildings. Although the college's new management team was "working hard" to resolve the issues of unsuitable accommodation and high levels of debt, "more radical action" was needed to bring the situation under control, Dr Collins said. In a separate report, he also warns that Stoke-on-Trent College will need to make further savings to balance its "fluctuating" finances. He recommends cuts to staffing, particularly in managerial and administrative roles. His report says that the college's small class sizes are a cause for concern and notes that further collaboration with the City of Stoke-on-Trent Sixth Form College could bring "significant benefits" to learners and employers.

Bill for teenage FE dropouts comes to pound;800m

The public purse paid out more than pound;800 million in 2012-13 for teenagers who failed to complete their education, new analysis reveals. Figures show that 178,100 16- to 18-year-olds did not finish the post-16 courses they started in 2012-13, and risked becoming Neet (not in education, employment or training). Analysis for the Local Government Association (LGA) by the Centre for Economic and Social Inclusion estimates the cost to the exchequer of this abortive education at pound;814 million, some 12 per cent of all government spending on post-16 education and skills in that year. The LGA said that councils could do more to support young people if powers related to further education, apprenticeships and careers advice were devolved to local areas.

Niace sets up strategic social inclusion alliance

Adult education body Niace has announced a strategic alliance with the Centre for Economic and Social Inclusion that could lead to a full merger. The partnership will have a "united and powerful" voice on employment, skills and lifelong learning, as well as developing new services to help people find work and advising policymakers on tackling social exclusion. The alliance will look at the potential for a full merger later in 2015. Niace chief executive David Hughes said the move put both bodies in a "fantastic position".

FE and HE must work together, Cable says

Business secretary Vince Cable has told the Higher Education Funding Council for England (Hefce) to work with colleges to develop "innovative curricula". In his annual grant letter to Hefce, Mr Cable anticipates an increase in funding available for HE institutions - including FE colleges that deliver HE - from pound;11.1 billion to pound;12.1 billion in 2015-16. He says the government is supporting new routes to HE through higher apprenticeships and national colleges, and instructs Hefce to facilitate joint working between the HE and FE sectors. This should develop "innovative curricula and new models of delivery that will meet employer needs for high levels of technical expertise", the letter adds.

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