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A battle of egos, ergo college is no-go for now

Who has the bigger ego, a college principal or a university vice-chancellor? It is a question as old as time, but we could finally discover the answer now that Highbury College Portsmouth and the University of Portsmouth have engaged in a battle of wills.

Plans for a university technical college (UTC) in the city have stalled as both the college and the university insist they want to lead the project. The university attempted to set up an 11-19 technical academy, but discovered that there is only capital funding for a 14-19 college. Meanwhile, Highbury's plans for a UTC cannot proceed until guess-who agrees to be its university partner.

The situation has left Peter Mitchell, chief executive of the Baker Dearing Educational Trust, which promotes UTCs, in despair. "They both want to be leaders," Mr Mitchell said. "If they work together they could be far more persuasive. It is a real shame. I would hope they could just sit down and work things out." Alternatively: a cage fight!

Hayes asks what country can do for him

Perhaps buoyed by the festive period, FE minister John Hayes appears to have taken a new creative direction. No longer reaching for the Shelley or Marcus Aurelius quotations, he chose to open last month's apprenticeship debate in the Commons with words from the legendary country music guitarist Chet Atkins: "A long apprenticeship is the most logical way to success. The only alternative is overnight stardom, but I can't give you a formula for that."

Of course, Atkins started playing guitar at the age of nine and played almost every night of his life until he fell asleep with the instrument in his arms, whereas Mr Hayes has just put a stop to 12-week apprenticeships for teenagers. Nevertheless, FErret approves of this new country direction and looks forward to judicious references to I Don't Know Whether to Kill Myself or go Bowling.

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