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Advanced learning loan applications decline

Applications for 24+ advanced learning loans have fallen by more than 4,000 in the past year, figures show. A total of 60,110 applications were received between April 2014 and March 2015, down from 64,664 in the previous 12 months. Fiona Aldridge, assistant director for development and research at adult education body Niace, said the figures proved the system wasn't working. "You'd think that as the loans system becomes more embedded we'd see the number of learners accessing them increase," she said. "Unfortunately, this doesn't appear to be the case and is instead a sad reflection of the current state of affairs in adult education - declining participation at a time of growing demand for skills." The loans were introduced for a range of courses in 2013 after the government withdrew funding. Dr Aldridge said Niace would work with the government to improve the loans system and collaborate with providers to develop the information and resources available to learners. "We cannot simply allow this technical and professional-level learning to continue to decline," she added.

Poll reveals hunger for apprenticeship knowledge

Young people want more opportunities to take up apprenticeships and a greater emphasis to be placed on them as a potential career route, a survey reveals. The poll of 1,000 18- to 24-year-olds by awarding body NCFE finds that 43 per cent think there are not enough apprenticeship opportunities, while 40 per cent feel that vocational career paths should be better explained. Some 37 per cent believe apprentices are underpaid, while only 20 per cent of 18- to 19-year-olds say they would choose to do an apprenticeship. Among the respondents, 24 per cent say they weren't informed of all FE options open to them while attending school, while 34 per cent believe they did not receive adequate careers support.

Flipped learning takes off in post-16 settings

The concept of flipped learning is growing rapidly within post-16 education, according to new research. A study by the British Educational Suppliers Association (Besa) finds that flipped learning, where students learn at home and carry out homework-style tasks in class, is now regularly used in 19 per cent of post-16 settings. A further 40 per cent of the 2,000 schools and colleges surveyed say they are looking to introduce the practice soon. Although new technology, such as e-books and apps, is increasingly being used, traditional classroom aids such as textbooks remain popular, with 96 per cent of students using them on a daily basis. Besa director Caroline Wright said: "This is the first time we have seen such a significant increase in the recognition and planned use of flipped learning."

Welsh jobs at risk amid part-time learning cuts

Hundreds of college lecturers in Wales face losing their jobs because the Welsh government is cutting funding for part-time adult learning by half. ColegauCymru, which represents all of Wales' 15 FE institutions, argued that the 50 per cent cut for 2015-16 would hit the country's "health and wealth". The body's chief executive Greg Walker said: "The cuts are already biting hard. Hundreds of Wales' highly skilled college lecturers will have to be let go. These are the very people we need to help build up the skills of the nation." Colleges were working to mitigate the impact, he said, but the effects would be felt for a long time. The Welsh government blamed the cuts on a pound;1.4 billion reduction in funding from the UK government since 2010.

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