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Further afield

Students' unions reach finals of NUS Awards

Cornwall College, Canterbury College and Dudley College have been nominated for an award for the work of their students' unions. All three have reached the finals of the National Union of Students Awards, after being selected from over 390 nominations. The winner will be revealed at a ceremony on 20 July in Leeds. The judging panel includes Liberty director Shami Chakrabarti, Learning and Skills Improvement Service chair Dame Ruth Silver, and outgoing Association of Colleges president Chris Morecroft. Kim Hughes, from Dudley College, is the only FE student nominated for the student unionist of the year category. Bradford College's fight to save its FreeCityBus service has been shortlisted for campaign of the year.

Backstage learning is music to students' ears

Students are being offered the chance to gain experience of how Britain's music festivals work behind the scenes in a programme run by the National Skills Academy for Creative and Cultural Skills. Young people from 20 colleges have already gone backstage on visits to gigs by bands such as Elbow and Scouting for Girls, and later this summer they will have the chance to see how events from Glastonbury to The Big Chill are prepared. The programme aims to inspire and prepare them for a career in live music production, where an estimated 30,000 new backstage workers will be needed by 2017, according to the skills academy.

Staff face disciplinary action after anti-redundancy strikes

Five University and College Union members at North West Regional College in Northern Ireland were called to disciplinary hearings after a protest during the opening of a new pound;18 million building last week. The staff members unfurled banners saying "No redundancies" and "No to the bully" as employment and learning minister Stephen Farry opened the new building in Derry. They were protesting against plans for 13 redundancies, which would include the UCU branch secretary and the chairman. UCU branch chairman David Limb is also accused of a breach of the Data Protection Act, after he said he had obtained information that "challenged the legitimacy of the redundancies".

Power Academy will spark new electrical generation

FE minister John Hayes opened Warwickshire College's new centre in Rugby, aimed at regenerating an industrial site and training people for the power industry. The new facility, on an 82-acre site that used to belong to Alstom, which builds and repairs steam turbines, includes a pound;6.4 million Power Academy to train people for industries generating electricity. It will also offer a wide range of full and part-time HE and FE courses, including apprenticeships. College principal Mariane Cavalli (pictured) said: "We are dedicated to making this new centre a truly vibrant, inclusive place to be and we look forward to inspiring students, businesses and the community for many years to come."

Courses aim to improve money-management skills

FE students need more financial education, the National Skills Academy for Financial Services has claimed after a survey of 600 FE students found that 38 per cent did not know the difference between a credit and a debit card, and nearly 43 per cent did not realise store cards were debt. The academy has launched two new courses accredited by the Open College Network, including one for non-teaching staff in outreach centres or other agencies to teach financial capability. Academy chief executive Sylvia Perrins said: "The findings of this survey show the urgent need to help students improve their knowledge of financial products. These new programmes aim to make a real and lasting impact on people's confidence when dealing with financial issues and the ability to improve their money- management skills."

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