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News at a glance

Cameron gets Employer Ownership off the mark

Prime Minister David Cameron opened the bidding for the Employer Ownership pilot, which will offer businesses direct control of up to #163;250 million of skills funding. Marking National Apprenticeship Week, he said: "By focusing investment where it is most needed to deliver sustainable growth, and offering real ownership of vocational training to employers, we are equipping businesses with the skills they need to rebalance our economy and distribute opportunity more widely." The deadline for applications, which will be expected to show how businesses will attract private investment and how the outcomes could not be achieved through existing means, is 26 April.

Thumbs-down for mature apprenticeships

A YouGov poll has found that just 3 per cent of employers think apprenticeships are suitable for over-25s, despite that age group showing the largest growth in numbers over the past year. Commissioned by Pearson, the poll found that 93 per cent of employers believed apprenticeships were most suitable for under-21s. A pamphlet by the Institute for Public Policy Research last year called for the government to end apprenticeships for over-25s. But 81 per cent of employers said they currently employed no apprentices, and even if they had all the support they needed, 40 per cent said they would still not take on an apprentice.

Extra student places allocated to colleges

FE colleges have been allocated half of almost 20,000 extra student places announced by the Higher Education Funding Council for England. Of the places set aside for institutions charging #163;7,500 or less, 9,500 will be shared by 143 colleges, meaning 24 colleges which applied for places have been turned down. A further 1,200 student places will be decided during an appeals process. Lynne Sedgmore, executive director of the 157 Group of colleges, said the announcement was a "huge statement of confidence in FE colleges".

Ucas consults on HE entry requirements

The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (Ucas) is consulting on plans to withdraw the tariff points system for setting entry requirements, due to concerns that it does not accommodate Access to HE qualifications or apprenticeships. Instead, Ucas suggests that higher education institutions should be provided with a database of information called qualifications information profiles, which will allow admissions tutors to decide whether a course is relevant and rigorous enough to prepare the student for their degree. The consultation, called the Qualifications Information Review, also intends to develop a measure to compare how academically demanding qualifications are. It closes on 16 April.

College to set up training academy in India

New College Nottingham (NCN) has signed an agreement to set up a vocational training academy in India for up to 1,000 students. Working with the Batra Group, which manufactures clothing and sportswear, the International Lifestyles Academy will focus on a curriculum including hospitality, retail and logistics, media and fashion, as well as offering teacher training and advanced English language classes, beginning in September. College principal Amarjit Basi said: "This entrepreneurial venture not only supports India's National Skill Development Policy focus on employer-led, skills-based training, but it also aligns with NCN's mission to be a college famed for supporting economic development, mobilising communities and transforming lives."

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