News at a glance
NUS campaigns for complaints procedure overhaul
The National Union of Students (NUS) has launched a campaign calling for an independent adjudicator for the complaints of students in FE. The union said its members continually say that the complaints process is not well known and that it is too hard to access, too slow to reach a resolution and too inconsistent. The NUS's report, Unresolved: the state of student complaints in further education, found that only 4 per cent of colleges believe students are fully aware of their complaints procedures, although all said students are at least "slightly aware" of them. More than a quarter do not record the number of complaints, or do not know if they do. And only 28 per cent publicise the fact that students can appeal to the relevant funding body. The NUS is calling for an independent complaints adjudicator, backed by a board of experts and designed to filter out frivolous or vexatious complaints. The union suggests that providers could opt in to the system, so that the adjudicator would have the support of the sector.
Students back Labour emphasis on English classes
Students at South Thames College have backed Labour plans to cut translation services in order to pay for more classes in English for speakers of other languages. Labour leader Ed Miliband visited the college earlier this week to launch the party's new English language strategy aimed at promoting integration, a move that has been criticised as being too little to make up for Labour's previous "failings" on immigration. The students endorsed English classes as the priority for immigrants, however. "I'm studying English at South Thames College as I'd like to get a good job in childcare, and I also want to be able to help my son with his homework," said Rena Berrocal, from Ecuador.
College horror flick kick-starts media careers
Students at Andover College are making a full-length film with professional help to give them a head start and credits in the film industry. With such intense competition in media careers, the college decided that giving them a qualification was not enough. So, working with writer, director and lecturer Peter Hearn, they raised the budget of just over #163;3,000 and began filming last month. Scrawl, described as a "fun horror" film, tells the story of two teenagers who write a gruesome comic book - only to find it coming true. The college said the experience has already helped some students to find further work in films, with one working as an assistant and runner on set with eight crews making short films, while another has been hired to edit video for an internet project.
University Centre aims to enhance opportunities
Central Sussex College has opened a dedicated University Centre after more than seven years of attempting to do so. The University Centre, launched last Friday, was first proposed when the college was formed in 2005 to address below average participation in higher education in Crawley and the area surrounding Gatwick Airport. Courses on offer from September 2013 will range from a BSc top-up degree in electronic engineering to Higher National Certificates and Diplomas in sustainable building and creative media production, validated by the University of Brighton and the University of Chichester. "Historically, less than a fifth of Crawley young people have gone on to higher education despite the world-leading and innovative companies we have here," said Henry Smith, MP for Crawley. "Providing more convenient access to university and good-quality employment will enhance local opportunities."