Consultants aim for personal touch

November 21, 1997

Will education control be local, regional or national? THES reporters monitor moving battlelines

SEVEN regional consultants have started work under a new structure introduced by the Higher Education Funding Council for England to boost face-to-face links with universities and colleges, writes Harriet Swain.

The consultants will spend part of each week in their region, aiming to give institutions a better idea of how the funding council works, listening to their ideas and discussing policy developments.

HEFCE introduced the new structure after a study carried out for them by the Office for Public Management found institutions wanted closer contact at senior level.

More than 90 per cent of institutions referred in their strategic plans to regional issues. And the Dearing report emphasised the growing importance of universities within their communities.

Brian Fender, the funding council's chief executive, said HEFCE wanted a better understanding of regional factors when considering the distribution of additional student numbers.

In a letter to universities and colleges, he said: "We want to work in partnership.

"We are increasingly collaborating with organisations at a national level to promote the role of higher education and increase opportunities. We also need to understand and develop closer links with organisations at a regional level."

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