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Further afield

Shake-up means simpler funding system for post-16

Colleges will have to deal with only one funding body under a shake-up designed to simplify the post-16 funding system. For matters relating to performance management, payment, audit and intervention, the lead agency for FE colleges will be the Skills Funding Agency, with sixth-form colleges instead dealing with the Young People's Learning Agency (YPLA). The change will come into effect in 201112. A joint letter to colleges from the agencies said: "The YPLA and Skills Funding Agency remain committed to working together in order to minimise bureaucracy and will continue to review progress in this area."

Walsall College launches its own awarding body

Walsall College has become the latest FE institution to launch its own awarding body. Asfi (Accredited Skills For Industry) has been created in close partnership with local employers. It focuses on supporting companies by developing and accrediting training programmes to meet their bespoke needs. The companies working with Asfi include Accord Housing Association, Roland Digital Graphics and the Oxfordshire Construction Training Group. College principal Amarjit Basi said: "We now have the ability to support local, regional and national employers in developing training programmes to meet their specific needs and enable their employees to gain nationally recognised accreditation at the same time."

South Tyneside staff vote to strike over job losses

Members of the University and College Union (UCU) at South Tyneside College have voted to take strike action in a row over job losses. The college has notified 200 staff that their positions could be at risk as it looks to shed the equivalent of 62.5 full-time jobs. Of the members who voted in the ballot, 85 per cent supported strike action. UCU regional support official Jon Bryan said: "This result shows the strength of feeling amongst our members against these proposals. They are furious at the college's attacks on their jobs and pay, and their students' education." The college has said it must save pound;3 million to balance the books and would try to avoid compulsory redundancies.

Musical theatre student performs ambassador role

A talented performing arts student from Blackpool and The Fylde College has attended a glittering reception at Buckingham Palace. Stephanie Lowe was one of two musical theatre students nominated to act as ambassadors for the industry at the event. The 20-year-old said she was "honoured" to have rubbed shoulders with the likes of actress Dame Helen Mirren (pictured with the Queen) and comedian Michael McIntyre at the prestigious event. Maggie Woodings, head of the college's school for art, media and performance, said: "It's a huge honour for the college to be represented at the palace. It was difficult to select a student to put forward from this outstanding group of learners, but I'm incredibly proud of Steph and pleased that she had the opportunity to meet such renowned and inspirational figures from performing arts."

Hadlow's animal management unit gets royal thumbs-up

Hadlow College in Kent was given the royal seal of approval when the Duke of Kent paid a visit to open its new animal management unit. After meeting local dignitaries and principal Paul Hannan, the Duke was given a tour of the unit and met lecturers and students from several departments, including dog grooming, aquatics, the veterinary nursing centre and the reptile area, before unveiling a commemorative plaque. Mr Hannan said: "The morning went exceptionally well. The Duke seemed really to enjoy himself and spoke to everyone to whom he was introduced. He commented about not realising the very wide variety offered in a college of our type. He also praised the students for their enthusiasm for their courses. and for the college."

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