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College may step in to save Pearson provider

Vision West Nottinghamshire College is on the verge of buying Pearson in Practice, one of the country's largest training providers. Last month, publishing giant Pearson announced plans to close the business in a move that would have cost the publisher #163;120 million and put 500 jobs at risk. But the college has revealed that it has struck a deal "in principle" to save Pearson in Practice, which would be renamed Vision Workforce Skills. "Negotiations are at an advanced stage and we hope formal agreement can be reached early next week," a college spokesman said. "The proposal is based on securing the long-term future of the business. Our agreement in principle has been communicated to Pearson in Practice staff, learners, employer partners and our own staff, and we will make a formal announcement once the deal is finalised."

Northern Ireland will keep education allowance

Northern Ireland is to keep a form of the Education Maintenance Allowance, it was announced this week. The maintenance grant has been scrapped in England but similar schemes still operate in Wales and Scotland. In 2013-14, Northern Irish students aged 16 to 19 in full-time education will qualify for a #163;30 weekly payment if their family income is less than #163;20,500 for a single student, or less than #163;22,500 if there are two or more students in the family. Students may also be entitled to a biannual bonus award of #163;200. "We are pleased that the Northern Ireland government has continued to support students from the poorest backgrounds who want to stay on in education," said Sally Hunt, general secretary of the University and College Union. "England now stands alone as the only nation that does not offer this vital support and must do better."

Unions unite against 24-plus apprenticeship fees

A coalition of unions has launched a campaign against the introduction of fees for people aged 24 and over who want to do an apprenticeship. Members of Unison, the National Union of Students, the University and College Union and the Association of Teachers and Lecturers are lobbying MPs in their constituencies. The fees, which could mean apprentices are charged more than #163;9,000 to learn while they work, are due to be introduced on 1 April. "Charging many adult learners to undertake an apprenticeship will be disastrous for the economy," said Jon Richards, Unison's head of education. "Now more than ever we should be investing in skills as a way of growing our way out of the financial crisis."

Cambridge UTC plans put out for consultation

Plans for a 670-place university technical college (UTC) backed by the University of Cambridge have been put out for consultation after a site was found for the 14-19 institution. The college proposal, supported by Napp Pharmaceuticals, the Medical Research Council and the Babraham Institute, has come about through a partnership between Cambridge Regional College (CRC) and Cambridge University Health Partners. The #163;10 million college building would be based close to Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge, and would specialise in biomedical and environmental science and technology. "The UTC Cambridge will enable young people to learn in this dynamic environment and to build careers that contribute to the Cambridge success story and have an impact on our future," CRC principal Anne Constantine said.

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