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FE news at a glance

FE sector told to reprogram itself for digital future

The FE sector needs a "culture change" if it is to fully embrace a digital future, according to a leading technologist. Bob Harrison, a key member of the Further Education Learning Technology Action Group, told TES that FE needed "more vision, leadership and action". Last week, the House of Lords Digital Skills Committee warned that digital skills training in the sector was "patchy, unresponsive and not meeting employer needs". The committee said the FE sector had a "key role" to play in developing high-level skills, but that colleges needed to "move up a gear". In response, Mr Harrison said increasing numbers of teachers and learners were making the transition to digital, but added: "FE needs a culture change.fewer reports and more vision, leadership and action."

Sailors' college is all at sea, says commissioner

An FE college providing courses for sailors is not effectively tracking its learners' progress, according to the FE commissioner. The Marine Society College of the Sea, which offers a range of courses to members of the Royal and Merchant navies, was rated inadequate by Ofsted last November. In a new report (bit.lyMarineCollege), commissioner Dr David Collins says the college needs processes for managing the learner journey and lacks the means to effectively track student progress. The report adds that the college has relied too heavily on its subcontractor, the National Extension College, which has not met the standards required.

Thinktank demands more loans for adult learners

More adult learners should be allowed to take out bank loans to fund their education and training, according to a report. In Fit for Growth, liberal thinktank CentreForum says adults should be entitled to a professional and career development loan as long as they have been accepted on to an accredited course. The loans allow learners to borrow between pound;300 and pound;10,000 at a reduced interest rate. CentreForum says that too few adult learners who apply are offered the loans; it wants the government to enhance the scheme and widen eligibility. However, adult education body Niace said that commercial interest bank loans were not the best solution for learners.

Student-run bistro wins people's choice award

An FE college bistro run by young people with learning and physical disabilities has won a national restaurant award. Star Bistro, based at the National Star College's Ullenwood campus near Cheltenham, was named "people's favourite" in the Sustainable Restaurant Awards. National Star is a specialist FE college supporting people with special educational needs. The bistro, which is open to the public, won the accolade with a public vote after beating more than 800 entries to make the shortlist of five.

NUS attacks `exploitative' apprentice wages

The minimum wage for apprentices is "exploitative" and does not cover basic living expenses, according to the NUS students' union. In a new report, Forget Me Not, the union also claims that apprentices are struggling to reach their place of study or work because they cannot afford the travel, and they cannot afford to take time off sick because they don't earn enough to claim sick pay. Joe Vinson, NUS vice-president for further education, said a whole generation was being "shut out" of vocational education because of financial constraints, and called for a serious investigation into apprentices' financial well-being.

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