30th September 2011 at 01:00

University students come fourth

FE has yet again got one over its posh big brother, higher education.

Ben Edwards, a joinery student at Burnley College in Lancashire, is gearing up for next year's European Triathlon Championships after excelling at a recent competition in Strathclyde.

Despite having to tackle a 1.5km swim, 40km bike ride and 10km run - enough to make any sensible furry mammal scuttle off to his burrow in fear - 18-year-old Ben finished in second place in his category, with his season's best time.

While FErret is of course pleased that Ben's sister Charlotte also did well, he can't help but point out that she only finished fourth. And where does she study? Lancaster University.

It may be churlish to gloat, given that Charlotte had only just recovered from a hip injury, but at the heart of this story there is clearly only one statistic that counts: FE 1, HE 0.

When staying in bed all day is a learning skill

When down the pub proclaiming the benefits of FE over a university education, FErret can often be found deriding those graduates in certain subjects - ooh, English Lit springs to mind - who spend all day sleeping and watching The Jeremy Kyle Show.

But he was left spluttering in his pint glass when he heard that students at Hartlepool College of Further Education and Stockton Riverside College were being allowed to spend the day in bed - and getting a diploma in advanced-level clinical healthcare support for their troubles.

The learners have been taking part in a "virtual ward" exercise at the University Hospital of North Tees, in which some played the role of healthcare assistants and others tested their acting skills to the limit performing as bed-ridden patients.

But we're sure there's more to it than a glorified game of doctors and nurses.

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