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Further afield

Lecturers formally approve IfL boycott

Lecturers have formally approved the decision to boycott the Institute for Learning (IfL) over the introduction of compulsory membership fees of pound;38, claiming that the professional body offers few benefits. Members of the University and College Union voted nearly nine to one to refuse to pay the fees, with general secretary Sally Hunt saying membership should not be mandatory since the equivalent body for schoolteachers was being abolished. The institute has criticised the turnout in the ballots, however. Fewer than 10,000 votes were cast in the latest poll compared to an overall IfL membership of about 200,000, who are mostly not union members.

Cameron announces funding for 10,000 apprenticeships

An extra pound;25 million to provide 10,000 places on higher level apprenticeships was announced by the prime minister last week. David Cameron said that he was "determined that this Government should be the most pro-business there has been, with one purpose and one goal: creating jobs and growth". The Higher Apprenticeships Fund will support the expansion of apprenticeships up to degree equivalent, focusing on small and medium companies in industries such as information technology and advanced manufacturing. Skills minister John Hayes said that the Government will deliver "the biggest and best apprenticeship programmes our country has ever seen".

Merger creates 1,000-staff college in Nottingham

Castle College in Nottingham has been taken over by South Nottingham College, creating a new institution with more than 5,500 full-time students, 38,000 part-timers and about 1,000 staff. All the campuses of the two merged colleges will remain open over the next year. South Nottingham College principal Malcolm Cowgill said: "I am pleased we can now focus on the future with a high degree of certainty. A lot of hard work within both colleges has taken place over the past few months which has given us a sound foundation to make this merger a success."

NUS rewards Dudley's EMA campaign

Dudley College students' union took two prizes at the National Union of Students' awards for its campaign to save the education maintenance allowance (EMA), which involved 2,000 students. It won FE student union of the year, while Dudley student Kim Hughes (pictured) also won the award for student unionist of the year - the only two awards to be presented to college students. NUS president Liam Burns said: "The last year has been an incredible one for students and their representatives. Throughout some of the worst ever attacks on access to education they have remained dogged and enthusiastic and it is wonderful to be able to recognise some of the most inspiring work they have done delivering for students and working in their communities."

UK's educational divide revealed in UCU analysis

A report on Britain's educational divide has found that in the worst- performing areas, more than one in three people of working age have no qualifications. The results for areas such as Glasgow East and Birmingham Hodge Hill contrast sharply with areas such as Brent North, where fewer than one in 50 are without qualifications. The University and College Union, which carried out the analysis, said the introduction of course fees for many people on benefits risked widening the gap. General secretary Sally Hunt said: "Education is central to our country's future, yet in some places thousands of people still have no qualifications. There is a real danger that children growing up in certain areas will have their ambition blunted and never realise their full potential."

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