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FErret

Play it again, Sam

Entrepreneurialism is the name of the game in colleges during these straitened times, so good luck to Ealing, Hammersmith and West London College, which has just set up its own record label.

Claiming a UK first - er, 12 years after City College Manchester set up RawFish Records - Grade 9 Records will be an outlet for music students' creativity, with the proceeds going to charity.

The aim, says Ray Holroyd, a tutor, is to recreate something like the old "development deals" which once offered young artists the chance to learn the ropes of the music industry.

Proceeds to charity? Helping artists develop? The music industry didn't get where it is today - a crisis - by indulging in such sentimentality. If the college really wants to imitate the big boys of the record industry, surely it should swipe all the royalties, watch the students die of booze and drugs, and then issue an expensive commemorative boxed set of their life's work. Now that's a business model.

Cash gain to train

Alas for the Learning and Skills Council. As it heads towards the grave, it seems it can do nothing right.

By FErret's count, we are probably in the year's fourth or fifth funding crisis now, with colleges worrying over Train to Gain allocations, wondering where all the money has gone.

Well, at least some was dished out by private training providers as "cash incentives" for employers to sign up, we reveal today.

And so, with faultless timing, the funding body issued a report announcing that "Train to Gain goes from strength to strength", although "feast to famine" or "frying pan to fire" might have been more appropriate.

Satisfied employers reported a number of benefits from the freebie training: better productivity, higher standards, better employee retention. They were strangely reticent about mentioning the cash handouts, however. No wonder nine out of 10 of them were happy!

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