FE news at a glance

23rd January 2015 at 00:00

Celebrities back campaign to end `learning tax'

Oscar-winning actor Colin Firth, pictured left, and television presenter Dermot O'Leary are among the thousands of people who have signed a petition calling for the "learning tax" on sixth-form colleges to be axed. The campaign by the Sixth Form Colleges' Association (SFCA) is urging the Department for Education to refund sixth-form colleges' VAT costs, which it claims leave the average institution with pound;335,000 less to spend on students. An e-petition launched before Christmas has attracted more than 11,000 signatures and a number of prominent sixth-form college alumni have lent their support. X-Factor host and Radio 2 DJ O'Leary said he had an "extremely positive" experience at the Sixth Form College in Colchester and was backing the campaign so that future students could benefit from the sort of education he had received. A survey published by the SFCA last June shows that 68 per cent of sixth-form colleges have dropped courses and 71 per cent have reduced enrichment activities such as drama, music and sport because of funding cuts. SFCA deputy chief executive James Kewin said it was a "clear injustice", adding: "The government should drop the learning tax to ensure sixth-form colleges can continue to provide students with the high-quality education they need to succeed and prosper." Find the petition at sixthformcolleges.orgdrop-learning-tax-campaign

`Catastrophic fall' in higher-level course uptake

The Edge Foundation is calling for an immediate investigation into a "catastrophic fall" in the number of people enrolling on higher-level technical and vocational qualifications. Figures analysed by the education charity show that over the past four years, the number of people enrolling at universities and colleges on sub-degree higher education courses, including foundation degrees and national diplomas, has fallen by 54 per cent. The foundation blamed the rise in tuition fees and an increasing focus on three-year degree courses. Its chief executive Jan Hodges said employers were "crying out" for people with high-level technical skills.

Colleges to get pound;700k to boost HE collaboration

More than pound;700,000 from a pound;22 million scheme will be shared among 74 FE colleges in England in an effort to encourage more young people into higher education. The Higher Education Funding Council for England (Hefce) is giving the cash to FE colleges with HE provision between now and 2016 in a bid to improve collaboration with schools and other colleges. More than 200 universities and colleges have come together to form 35 networks across the country under the National Networks for Collaborative Outreach project. Each network will appoint someone who can offer students advice about progression into HE and help teachers find out about the outreach activity of their local universities and colleges.

Free traineeship and apprenticeship support

Colleges and training providers can now apply for a free consultancy service designed to improve their delivery of apprenticeships and traineeships. The Association of Employment and Learning Providers, which manages the two Education and Training Foundation programmes, has announced that funding has been set aside for 80 organisations on a first come, first served basis until the end of May. The service will provide tailored support, advice and guidance. To register, visit apprenticeshipstaff-support.co.ukconsultancy or traineeship-staffsupport.co.ukconsultancy


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