News at a glance

Bursaries to be announced before #163;6k fees kick in

Bursaries to support the training of FE teachers will be unveiled before would-be staff are faced with fees of at least #163;6,000, FE minister John Hayes told the Association of Colleges conference. The Institute for Learning and others had warned that the fees would put off prospective FE teachers from retraining and leaving careers that often paid more than teaching, especially now that some of those training to become school teachers will be paid bursaries of up to #163;20,000. Mr Hayes said the details would be revealed later, but that he aimed to provide comparable sums to the school scheme, although the focus on elite degrees may not be suitable for FE.

Minister's vision to 'liberate' sector

Skills minister John Hayes outlined his vision of a "stronger, more flexible and more independent" FE sector at the Association of Colleges conference this week. He revealed plans for colleges to be given funding for developing new programmes earlier, in order to help them meet the skills needs of local employers. Governance, quality assurance and data-management arrangements will also be simplified to reduce the burden on providers, Mr Hayes added. "I want to liberate colleges to be free to do what is right for their communities now. The changes we propose are radical and by the end of this Parliament will transform the further education landscape," he said.

Colleges lead rush to bid for extra HE places

Five times as many FE colleges as universities have bid for extra higher education places under the Government's cut-price student numbers margin for 201213. The Higher Education Funding Council for England has received bids for a total of 35,811 places, significantly more than the 20,000 that are on offer. The bids have been made by a total of 202 institutions, of which 167 are FE colleges. The extra places are only open to institutions charging fees of #163;7,500 or less. Allocations will be announced early next year and the bids will be assessed on quality and demonstrable demand for places.

Principals in the lead to bolster entrepreneurship

A new group of private and public-sector leaders has been created with the aim of transforming the FE sector through entrepreneurship. The Gazelle group has been created by Generator Enterprises, a company founded by five college principals. Entrepreneurs involved in the scheme include Peter Jones and Doug Richard from BBC TV show Dragons' Den, as well as Risk Capital Partners founder Luke Johnson and Pacific Direct founder Lara Morgan. "Our aim is to create a new generation of colleges with an ethos, values and culture that are distinctively geared towards wealth creation, business growth and employment outcomes," said Warwickshire College principal Mariane Cavalli, co-founder of Generator Enterprises.

FE's dearth of flexible working holds back women

Opportunities for flexible working in the FE sector are limited, according to a survey by the Women's Leadership Network (WLN). In the study, 55 per cent of women said the opportunities for them to work flexibly were limited or non-existent. Only 35 per cent of respondents had requested flexible hours and just 28 per cent had actually been given flexible working arrangements. "We believe that flexible working will encourage more women to aim high, addressing the current under-representation of women in senior leadership roles," said WLN chair Sally Dicketts, principal of Oxford and Cherwell Valley College.

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