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Advanced apprenticeships are gateway to HE

One in eight young people with an advanced-level apprenticeship has progressed into higher education, research by Greenwich University has revealed. This is more than double the number previously thought, and the number of people completing the apprenticeships - which combine college study with on-the-job training, and are equivalent to A-levels - has also increased by 36 per cent over the last four years. Professor David Maguire, Greenwich's vice-chancellor, said: "Apprenticeships can be a great way for young people to develop the higher level skills that the nation needs. Helping them into higher education demands that universities work in new ways, offering more flexible and part-time courses, for example."

Tower Hamlets offsets EMA cut with own award

A local authority is to offer its own financial support package for students who would have been eligible for the education maintenance allowance (EMA). Tower Hamlets Council has created the Mayor's Education Award (MEA), worth #163;400 a year for students from low-income families who have lived in the deprived borough for at least three years. The council's mayor, Lutfur Rahman, said: "Government cuts to EMA were particularly damaging because, for many of our young people, it dampened their dreams of a better future. The MEA is designed to keep those dreams alive; it gives students who might otherwise have been forced to abandon their studies a second chance." The grant is dependent on students' attendance and educational progress.

Scrutiny for SFA and its chief executive role

Skills minister John Hayes has announced a review of the Skills Funding Agency (SFA). The role of SFA chief executive, a statutory post, will also be scrutinised. "The Government has committed to undertake a regular evaluation of its key delivery bodies, and to radically increase the transparency and accountability of all public services," a statement from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said. "This review will be run in line with the Cabinet Office's public bodies review programme."

Colleges braced for surge in demand for HE

Half of colleges are expecting a surge in demand for higher education courses as a result of the increase in university tuition fees. The survey by education services firm Tribal Group found 94 per cent of colleges were adapting their curriculum offer to meet this expected demand. Fifty-nine per cent of respondents have already reviewed their curriculum plan, while 28 per cent are still planning to carry out a review. Tribal's FE services manager Nick Pidgeon said: "We could well see a trend towards more HE courses being delivered by FE institutions, as students look for a cost-effective alternative to higher tuition fees."

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