Fairer deal for franchises is in pipeline

November 20, 1998

Rules to protect further education colleges from unscrupulous deals with higher education institutions were proposed this week by the Higher Education Funding Council for England.

In October HEFCE rejected Lord Dearing's recommendation that universities should not be allowed to sub-contract courses to colleges. But it said tough quality assurance rules were needed More than 13 per cent of all higher education is provided in colleges and this is likely to increase. Two weeks ago HEFCE announced that 15,000 of the 35,000 extra student places for 1999-2000 will be at sub-degree level and 20,000 will be part-time.

In its consultative proposals HEFCE makes higher education responsible for the quality and accountability of courses it sub-contracts to further education.

The move follows funding concerns. Some higher education institutions were passing on less than a third of the money they received to teach the students.

HEFCE now wants guarantees that the contracting institution will adequately fund the sub-contracted courses. But it does not advocate setting a fixed percentage of the teaching funding to be passed on to colleges.

Each franchise agreement should also guarantee student numbers. Staff numbers teaching HE courses at FE colleges should also be specified.

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