22nd October 2010 at 01:00

Business high-flyer

Colleges are always being urged to act more like businesses. And yet when Blackburn College follows this advice and launches a slightly fatuous publicity stunt, all people do is complain! So howls of outrage were heard last week when the college said it would pay pound;5,000 compensation to any student who failed their A-levels. Encouraging failure! Waste of taxpayers' money!

The college says it will not enter any students who have not worked hard - and with a 99 per cent pass rate already, plus some extra vigiliance now it has put itself in the spotlight, it is highly unlikely that it will ever have to pay out.

It is the Ryanair approach to marketing: every time its CEO Michael O'Leary comes out with some outrageous plan to charge people for going to the loo or whatever, the message that gets across is that Ryanair is cheap. The college has won acres of publicity promoting the idea that they are unusually confident that their students will succeed. And it is all for free - the TaxPayers' Alliance should stop whingeing and applaud.

Sugar not so sweet

Lord Sugar can't resist taking digs at FE colleges. First, The Apprentice star used his BBC show to say they were for "dummkopfs". Now he thinks whatever funding is left should be used as incentives for employers to hire apprentices, "instead of blowing it on these so-called further education facilities", as he told a Lords debate last week.

FErret has nothing against incentives for employers, but does Lord Sugar realise that companies are already getting training which costs thousands for free? So if you add a bung to employers on to apprenticeships, it just means you can afford less training overall.

Still, on one subject the man is talking sense: "Cutting funding for training would be a repetition of the mistakes during the last recession." Amen.

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar, Buyagift.com, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today