Council eyes up fund rejig

June 15, 2001

The Scottish Further Education Funding Council is consulting on radical changes to the way it funds colleges.

The SFEFC is consulting on a report by the Scottish Further Education Unit that concludes that the ten-year-old funding weightings, which take account of different course delivery costs, need to be overhauled.

The SFEFC, which took over funding Scotland's 47 further education colleges less than two years ago, inherited a Scottish Office funding system that centred on student activity called Sums (student units of measurement).

Sums are calculated according to the number of 40-hour modular study programmes, weighted to take account of different costs.

The consultation report recommends reducing the differentials between subjects, arguing that this reflects increased centralisation in delivering courses. Its recommendations range from an 11 per cent price drop in agriculture and a 10 per cent rise in creative arts and design.

The SFEFC has not decided whether or how to implement the SFEU recommendations, and is offering them as a basis for discussion. Colleges have until the end of September to respond. The SFEFC will come up with proposals in December.

David Wann, the SFEFC's deputy chief executive, said: "We want to ensure our funding policies help colleges meet employers' and students' needs and are not perverted by ancient assumptions behind the way the funding is allocated."

But the Association of Scottish Colleges said the report presented "quite serious problems both of principle and application".

Tom Kelly, chief officer of the ASC, said: "One of the problems about funding when it is as complex as ours is you can go through it point by point, but it can still lead to a perverse outcome. There must be modelling of options to give a clearer understanding of what the effects could be."

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