HIGHER and further education are locked in a battle for cash over plans to expand the number of sub-degree courses taught in colleges.
The government is preparing to transfer money from the Further Education Funding Council to its higher education counterpart this autumn ready for 1999-2000.
The transfer was recommended in the Dearing report, which said that the Higher Education Funding Council for England, and not the FEFC, should pay for higher education courses in colleges. The government accepted this but ignored Dearing's recommendation that there should be no expansion of degree courses in colleges.
HEFCE sources argue that the amount transferred must be enough to ensure courses' quality and standard. But FEFC is worried that colleges will lose if more money is transferred than is spent on providing higher education qualifications such as Higher National Certificates and Diplomas.
A report, thought to be by accountancy consultants KPMG, will provide ammunition in the battle. It allegedly shows there is little difference between the cost of providing higher education in further education and comparable courses in higher education. This could benefit HEFCE.
An FEFC spokesman said: "The funding worry will do little to calm vice-chancellors' fears that a substantial number of the extra 35,000 students announced for higher education in 1999-2000 may go into further education colleges on sub-degree programmes.
The Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals has said that, even if the college places are fully funded, the switch in resources will leave universities with less money in total, thereby restricting financial flexibility.