PRINCIPAL Mollie Temple has vowed that Bolton Institute will do all it can to help students earn as they learn.

Mrs Temple says students are now having to take on more and more paid work to make ends meet.

But she revealed that the Institute is increasingly looking new ways of integrating students' jobs into their courses so work does not damage their academic performance.

Over the last few years, grant aid has virtually disappeared and students now have to take out loans to cover their tuition fees and living expenses.

Speaking at the annual awards ceremony, Mrs Temple said this could be useful in some circumstances where earning and learning could be matched.

But she acknowledged that for many students, the need to earn a living is an unwanted distraction from their studies.

She added: "We are rapidly moving to a situation where all students will earn and learn.

"Here in the Institute we are seeking ways to make this a positive rather than a negative situation, by developing learning programmes which integrate with, and make use of, the work experience.

"We are also seeking support from employers to develop further sponsorship of employee learning."

Mrs Temple went on to outline the college's achievements over the past year and paid tribute to former Principal, Professor Bob Oxtoby, who retired in December and retiring governor, Barbara Hurst OBE.

The Principal praised Prof Oxtoby's efforts in trying to win university status for the town and said she was optimistic David Blunkett would make his decision before Christmas.

Mrs Zahid P Manzoor CBE, who was later awarded an honorary degree for her contribution to public service, also said she was anxiously awaiting the education secretary's decision.

She praised the Institute for its high quality, adding: "It would be a great and fitting tribute, if the Institute was awarded university status," she said.

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