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Future of Learndirect hubs in the balance

A TENTH of Learndirect hubs have been placed on "recovery plans" and told to improve their performance by the end of October or face closure.

There are 76 hubs in England and Wales which run groups of learning centres. Those which fail to come up to scratch will be given a year's notice to wind themselves up and other operators will be invited to take over. The number of hubs may also be reduced.

The reasons they have been put on the danger list include poor student numbers and problems with management and administration, said Ian Lucraft, the University For Industry's head of learning centre policy and contracts.

He still hopes most of the centres on recovery plans will survive.

Judith Stradling, director of Learndirect's Gloucestershire hub - one of the seven on a recovery plan - said the action had been "very demotivating" for the organisation which had only been fully-operational since January. "Like any new business, you have to give it the chance to get off the ground and we are not being given that," she said.

Ms Stradling, who is also vice-principal of Gloucestershire College of Arts and Technology, says the UFI has not recognised the extent to which further education has absorbed many of the hidden costs.

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