News at a glance

'No frills' college will offer cheaper qualifications

Coventry University is to open its own "no frills" college offshoot to offer cheaper qualifications. Coventry University College, which opens next September, will run HNCs and HNDs, as well as professional qualifications, in a range of subjects including business, banking, law and engineering. Students will also have the option of going on to complete a full honours degree at the university. Tuition fees will peak at #163;4,800 per year - significantly lower than next year's #163;7,947 fees at the university. Students will not have access to the university's library, IT or sports facilities.

Students face limited science options, says Ofsted

Options for learners studying foundation and intermediate-level science courses at FE colleges are limited, an Ofsted report has found. While the science curriculum is broad for students taking A-levels, inspectors found courses on offer at lower levels fail to provide the opportunities learners receive in other subject areas. However, the report found many teachers managed to tailor learning successfully to their learners' abilities, and explained key points clearly.

Distance-learning HQ is sold off to raise funds

A learning company dogged by financial difficulties has sold off the Cambridge headquarters of one of the UK's oldest distance-learning colleges. The home of the National Extension College (NEC) - which has around 20,000 learners on its books - has been bought by neighbouring Homerton College, part of Cambridge University. The NEC was bought out by the training firm Learning and Skills Network (LSN) last year. Acting LSN chief executive Yvonne Smithers confirmed earlier this year that it would have to sell off the land to survive. The NEC will continue to occupy its current premises.

Blackburn helps jobless with work academies

Blackburn College has set up a pilot work academies programme to tackle high youth unemployment in the Lancashire town. Working with Jobcentre Plus, the college has created new courses in retail, construction, care and telesales, and has signed up firms including Balfour Beatty, Asda and Debenhams. The courses include training, work experience and a guaranteed job interview. Jess Criswell, head of business computing and technology at Blackburn College, said: "I believe no other Jobcentre Plus in the area has managed to get any sector-based work academies up and running, so nationally we are way ahead of the game."

Disabled students get cash help for media careers

Two disabled students from Kensington and Chelsea College in west London have won bursaries to pursue careers in the media. Oliver Wilkinson, who has a damaged lymphatic system, and dyslexic Jack Townsend have each been awarded #163;1,000 through a fund set up by Turner Broadcasting and Leonard Cheshire Disability. "I'm going to invest in some top-quality media business skills training, and improve my website," Mr Wilkinson said. College principal Mike Jutsum said: "This is where diversity gets real, and we get to see students succeed in reaching media industry standards."

Pioneering MP takes on a second apprentice

A Harlow College student has become the second apprentice to be taken on by the town's MP. Louis Luck has been appointed as a part-time research assistant in the office of Conservative backbencher Rob Halfon. He will spend three days a week at Westminster, one day working in Mr Halfon's constituency office and one day studying at the college. "I've really enjoyed studying politics at A-level for the past two years, so having the opportunity to now work with Robert in Parliament really is a dream come true," Mr Luck said.

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