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Legal row hits UFI launch

THERE might be adverts on TV and the London Underground for the University for Industry's "Learndirect" on-line learning centres and phone helpline, but other promotional activities to mark next week's national Learndirect launch will not go ahead as planned.

Its press office said the new university was "keen to ensure that everything is absolutely ready before embarking on PR activities". Learndirect now has 600 centres operating, as well as its website.

The hold-up stems from the continuing legal wrangle with the "hubs", the regional organisations that run thelearning centres. Many have still not signed contracts, which were due to be finalised a week ago.

Last Friday, the Association of Colleges and the UFI issued a joint letter to colleges and hubs following a meeting that resolved some "key issues" with the contracts, for example hubs will now be indemnified against any liability arising from the failure of UFI systems and a group will be set up to review the operation of hubs.

Learndirect Scotland will launch as planned on October 16. See next week's FE Focus for an interview with its chief executive, Frank Pignatelli.

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