1st May 2009 at 01:00

Costly divide and rule

Time to put on the tin hat and flak jacket to report the latest from the front line of the war on bureaucracy, where missiles rain down on waste and inefficiency.

FE is continuing its successful "divide and conquer" strategy, whereby bureaucratic institutions are divided in two so they can gang up on colleges and conquer. After all, the division of the Learning and Skills Development Agency into the Learning and Skills Network and the Quality Improvement Agency was such a hit that the latter had to be given a death sentence after 18 months.

And so we turn to the new chief executives for the Skills Funding Agency (affectionately nicknamed "Sweet" FA) and the Young People's Learning Agency (YPLA - no relation to the Village People song). They will take over the work of the Learning and Skills Council boss once Pounds 7 billion has been handed over to the control of local authorities - and, at an annual cost of Pounds 140,000 each, they will cost us more than Pounds 70,000 a year extra between them for less responsibility. Bargain!

Plane stupid

What appeared to be an airline ticket dropped unsolicited into FErret's mailbox this week, leading to much jubilation that perhaps at last the FE world is beginning to offer the sort of bribery that hardworking hacks deserve.

Those hopes were unfounded, alas. Instead, it was merely the new marketing campaign for Tower Hamlets College in east London, featuring an imaginary airline ready to whisk students off to success in their chosen career. FErret suspects Tower Hamlets is being far too modest: its canteen food can't be that bad.

It's hard to see what colleges could learn from air travel: hours of queuing, cramped quarters and, of course, a small yet significant chance of either a fiery or a watery grave makes the average campus seem like a veritable paradise.

On the other hand, at least the kids would have to switch off their mobile phones.

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