£20k lure for maths graduates to be college teachers

Maths graduates are to be offered £20,000 to teach in England’s further education colleges, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills says.

Grants of around £9,000 will also be available to graduates who opt to teach English or work with those with special educational needs (SEN) in colleges.

Ministers want to improve the numeracy and literacy skills of those studying vocational courses at FE colleges.

Unions said the move proved good graduates were not queuing up to teach.

The announcement by the BIS comes amid concerns from employers that employees have poor maths and English skills.

Around 8.1 million people – 24% of the working-age population in England – lack basic maths skills, the government’s most recent Skills for Life Survey suggests, while 5.1 million (15%) struggle with literacy.

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How can we attract the younger generation?

The financial services industry is crucial to the UK economy. The sector currently employs over 2 million people: equivalent to 7 per cent of the working population. Whilst the sector is believed to have lost approximately 10,000 jobs in the last quarter, this downturn is expected to be short lived. In fact, employers’ body, the CBI, has forecast a slight improvement in employment prospects in the next quarter.

Over recent years the sector has seen its fair share of challenges and issues, which have resulted in some resistance from people wanting to join the industry. However, recent changes to the oversight of financial services – including the introduction of a new regulatory body in the Financial Conduct Authority – means that those in the industry can now start to look forward.

The sector will continue to attract high calibre applicants of all ages, whether graduates, school leavers or people looking for a second time career. We have certainly seen this with the broad intake of students into The Financial Adviser School, whose ages range from 18 to 55.

‘Middle-income graduates pay the most for student loans’

The impact of the new rules – only beginning to be understood now – will make graduates on middle incomes pay more and for longer, new research shows.

These are the findings of a heavyweight piece of research undertaken by political charity, The Intergenerational Foundation, published today, examining the complex new student loan regime introduced last year.

The new system – which came in as universities were permitted to charge a maximum £9,000 in tuition fees per year – means students borrow at a commercial rate of interest, higher than inflation, which is scaled up in relation to earnings above a current £21,000 annual threshold.

The impact of these escalating rates mean people in the middle pay the most – but take the longest to clear their debt. In the words of the report, “graduates toward the middle of the income distribution during their careers will find they are never able to pay off their debts in full and will be stuck making repayments until after 30 years when they reach the point where their outstanding debts are written off.”

Graduate vacancies at five-year high, suggests research

Graduate vacancies at Britain’s “top” employers are at their highest since 2008, new research suggests.

Britain’s 100 “leading employers” have 4.6% more jobs for new graduates than in 2012, High Fliers Research said.

But its study of the 2013 graduate market said there were still an average 46 applicants for each position.

Last month the Higher Education Statistics Agency said it believed 10% of UK students remained unemployed six months after graduating in 2012.

The latest study suggests that the rise in vacancies for graduates is higher than expected.
Earlier this year, the same group of employers predicted that graduate vacancies would increase by 2.7%.

Student loans: Will it soon be pay-back time?

Heads of universities are lobbying the government to alter student loans as a way to limit cuts. Students may have assumed the arguments about the new fee system were done and dusted. But as the axe looms over government funding for universities, senior academics are lobbying the government for graduates to start paying back their loans much earlier to cut public costs.

Universities have already suffered severe cuts to their government funding for teaching and capital. Most are braced for further reductions when George Osborne unveils his comprehensive spending review on 26 June. Yet vice-chancellors warn that there are few pots of money left to raid, and further scything of the universities budget could seriously threaten the quality of teaching and science.

Although none is keen to say so publicly yet, some vice-chancellors see changing the student finance arrangements as a fairly painless way of absorbing cuts.

Backing them up is Nicholas Barr, professor of public economics at the London School of Economics and one of the leading experts on student loans. This, he argues, is a no-brainer. At present, graduates have to start repaying their loans when they earn £21,000 or more, but Barr is adamant that this should drop to £18,000.

“The problem with the current arrangement is that the repayment threshold is so high that far too many graduates do not repay the loan in full,” he says. “Of course, the National Union of Students and some posturing politicians would say lowering it to £18,000 was hitting graduates, but let’s get this in proportion. It would only add £22.50 a month to repayments.”

He adds: “The purpose of student loans isn’t to help the poor – there are much better ways of doing that. Politicians claiming that they have changed loan repayments to help poor people are just playing political games, or showing total economic illiteracy.”

At present, the £21,000 repayment level is also index-linked to changes in wages. Vice-chancellors are suggesting that one less politically explosive way of saving money would be to remove this index, so that over time graduates would start to repay sooner anyway – perhaps without even noticing the change.

The head of one modern university says: “There is quite a lot of evidence that students and parents don’t really understand the new financial system, so you could play around with it quite easily.”

He adds: “I fully expect the government to say the repayment threshold will be fixed in pound terms. That would make a big difference pretty quickly.”

However, the NUS is furious that graduates might be used as a sort of shield to deflect cuts. Liam Burns, its president, says: “A cut in the repayment threshold stands to take money out of lower-earning graduates’ pockets and would further undermine the claims ministers have made for their policies.

Four in ten students may default on their loans: Treasury fear funding system is unsustainable

Four out of ten student loans may never be repaid, amid fears that university funding is becoming unsustainable.graduation

The Treasury is said to be concerned that the new system – which sees students borrow up to £9,000 a year for their course fees – will not recoup its costs.

Officials anticipated that 28 per cent of loans would never be repaid. It is now understood that their estimate stands at 40 per cent.

From last September, the maximum amount universities could charge for tuition was nearly trebled from £3,290 to £9,000. This leaves students with the prospect of £36,000 of debt for a four-year course, before living costs are taken into account.

And graduate salaries have fallen dramatically in recent years, impairing their ability to repay the loans when they start work.

Ministers said it was necessary to put higher education ‘on a more sustainable footing’ – but some claim they fear the loans could increase the cost to the taxpayer in the long-term.

A senior source said yesterday: ‘The Treasury are all over this and are extremely worried about the viability of the system. They are taking a very long-term view but their estimate for non-repayment keeps going up.

‘It is not helped by the recession, which means graduate incomes are going to be lower than they hoped.’

An independent schools expert also raised fears that teachers are not giving pupils and parents enough information about the debts they could accumulate by going to university.

Shortage of science graduates will thwart manufacturing-based recovery

Too few women studying science, maths and engineering and a curb on immigration make government hopes forlornyoung scientists

The government’s hope that it can drive an economic recovery by growing the UK’s manufacturing industry will be thwarted by a lack of science and technology graduates, a report suggests.

The report – which concludes that there is an annual shortfall of 40,000 science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) graduates – has been released amid calls for a national campaign to boost the number of women in science.

A spokesman for the Social Market Foundation (SMF) thinktank, said the number of home-grown graduates in STEM subjects needs to increase by half just to keep science-related industries at their current size.

If the government would like to grow these sectors to drive a recovery at the same time as reducing migration, the shortfall balloons even further.

Nida Broughton, a senior economist at the SMF, said: “The government has made clear its aim to rebalance the UK economy towards manufacturing and away from financial services. But it has also pledged to reduce immigration. Our analysis shows that the gulf between skills and jobs makes these aims incompatible in the short-term.”

The manufacturers’ association, the EEF, estimates that 90% of Britain’s engineers are male and 80% of workers in the manufacturing industry are male. That compares with other sectors, where men are an average of 51% of the workforce.

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