John Brennan: American community colleges have a great deal for us to admire and emulate

Britain and the United States have long had a close relationship. For years our schools and colleges have built strong links with partner institutions across the pond. And we have much to learn from each other, particularly in further education. I was fortunate enough to attend last week's annual convention of the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) in Long Beach, California. Most people in the UK will not have heard of the AACC or the college system it represents. Community colleges are the equivalent of our further education colleges and there are many interesting parallels and contrasts between their system and ours.

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The Government's White Paper on the future of further education is right to single out staying-on rates at age 16 as the most pressing issue to be tackled. We cannot tolerate a situation in which countries such as India and China are expanding their education systems, but we lag behind at 24th out of 29 industrialised nations for the percentage of young people staying on in full-time education and training. This week's announcement that A-level courses are to be provided free to youngsters up to the age of 25 is imaginative.

Contemporary music academies give stars of future a chance to be heard

If you were searching for the best spot to establish a school for popular musicians, you might not immediately think of Guildford, the Surrey hometown of corporate commuters. The Home Counties are where rock royalty retire to vulgar country mansions to count their money; not, surely, where the guitar heroes of the future are bred?

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Sign up now if you want to learn a language, study art or go an expedition

Designs on gaining university status

Art colleges are opting to merge with one another as a way to survive and grow

Why the lesson for today is don't delay

Adults may have to pay higher tuition fees in the future. Will fewer sign up?

A chance to study, wherever you are

For people with neither the time nor desire to learn full-time, there's a solution, says Nick Jackson

Politicians keep one eye on colleges

Party conference season yielded no new policies, but tactics were up for discussion
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