College staff driven away by red tape

January 21, 2000

Bureaucracy is driving experienced staff from the college sector and damaging teaching quality, research by the Institute of Education suggests.

The research, commissioned by lecturers' union Nathfe, found colleges struggling to cope with the increasing bureaucratic demands of a constantly evolving funding methodology. Increasing administrative workloads has led to plummeting teaching hours and the growth of resource-based teaching methods, seen as "cheap" and "unacceptable" by students and parents.

Paul Mackney, Natfhe's general secretary, warns in his introduction that the research confirms many of Natfhe's long-standing concerns. "The pressures of increasing workloads are driving experienced and committed staff from colleges," he said. "It can't be right that college middle managers are spending so much time counting that they are pushed to have the time to devise strategies to counter social exclusion and develop the curriculum."

The research, from the institute's Lifelong Learning Group, is Natfhe's second analysis of the impact of FE funding. The report, Learning to Live with it, says colleges find increasing data requirements from the Further Education Funding Council "onerous". Colleges are "struggling with inadequate software" and believe the data generated is "too complicated".

Almost all respondents were concerned about the growing use of part-time staff.

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