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Neigh it ain't so

FErret is not used to a PR role, but after reading comments made about the education maintenance allowance (EMA) at Bridgwater College in Somerset, he feels obliged to step in.

Things started so well, with the college promising to help students facing the loss of the pound;30-a-week payment by digging into its own budget. But one student's comments may be misunderstood. Stephanie Keohane, 18, told her local paper that she put part of her EMA towards buying a horse. This may seem like a middle-class indulgence. Not so!

While the West Country has made great strides in recent years - as one of its refugees, comedian Richard Herring, has remarked: "Today in Somerset, electricity arouses only suspicion, not fear" - its inhabitants should be forgiven their attachment to horse-drawn carriages. Think of Ms Keohane's investment in a horse as a "Somerset bus pass".

McFly in the ointment

A cautionary tale for colleges hoping to make money with commercial ventures comes from educational charity Hillcroft, which runs the National Residential College for Women.

It had organised a music festival at Sandown Park in Surrey, charging pound;32 per person to hear headliners McFly. The hope was that the festival would raise pound;200,000 to repair a leaking roof and improve disabled access. Just 3,000 of the 14,000 tickets were sold, leaving the charity pound;443,000 out of pocket, according to documents unearthed by the Surrey Comet.

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