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FErret

Agency makes a meal of determining a moniker

Consultations are a necessary evil, and government agencies always come under fire when they act without asking for others' views - but there must be some decisions that could be taken with less deliberation.

That thought crossed FErret's mind as he perused a survey from the Skills Funding Agency over what to call the new loans for FE courses. Respondents were invited to rate a series of options, which were: Learning Loan, Adult Learners Loan, Skills and Learning Loan, Skills and Education Loan, Further Education Loan, Education and Training Loan and Learners Loan.

Hmm, is Learning Loan better than Learners Loan? Is it a loan for skills and education or education and training? Why no option for education and skills or training and education?

There was space for a write-in vote, however, so FErret pondered entering "OH GOD KILL ME NOW JUST MAKE IT STOP." Luckily, Shane Chowen, former NUS vice-president for FE and now at the Institute for Learning, had a more constructive suggestion: why not just call them "student loans"?

UCU ballot reveals little rebellion in the ranks

University and College Union general secretary Sally Hunt has won a clean sweep in her battle to steer the union in a more mainstream direction and reduce the influence of UCU Left.

Part of the dispute was over the pensions strike. Ms Hunt wanted to implement her long-held preference to ballot members over whether to end the strike and accept an offer billed as final. The national executive opposed this, with UCU Left arguing that it would send a message to the government that the union had little confidence about improving the deal.

What, then, will the government make of the wording in the reform ballot that Ms Hunt has just won? It refers to a situation "where, in the opinion of the majority of UCU negotiators, an employers' offer is final and cannot be improved through further negotiation". Naturally, such a scenario is hypothetical and unrelated to the current dispute ...

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