Learning curve ball

June 25, 2004

Your article "Quango famed for red tape set to cross divide" (News, June 18) was inaccurate and misleading. The proposed lifelong learning networks would try to establish guaranteed progression pathways from further and vocational education to higher education by building on and expanding the close working relationships between post-16 providers and higher education institutions.

There is absolutely no suggestion of extending the funding remit of the Learning and Skills Council to include higher education, which will remain entirely funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for England. Nor is there any suggestion of the consequent creation of "two distinct 'classes' of academics".

While the Sussex model you cite is one option of how such a system might work, there is no assumption that it would be fit for every circumstance, and it is not being held up as a national "template".

Lifelong learning networks have the potential to benefit everyone involved with them - students, further education and work-based learning providers, higher education institutions and society as a whole. It is a great shame to see such a promising idea reduced to a misunderstanding over who runs what.

Caroline Neville
National director of learning
Learning and Skills Council

John Rushforth
Director of widening participation
Higher Education Funding Council for England

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