THE Association of Scottish Colleges has backed Garrick's proposals for a Scottish further education funding council, arguing that this can achieve greater openness than is possible under direct funding from the Scottish Office.
But it says it would want to discuss the funding council's remit and scope, as well as its relationship with the Scottish Higher Education Funding Council, including any overlap of membership. The proposed Scottish higher education forum, advising Government on strategy, should be matched by a similar further education forum.
It welcomes the recommendation to lift the cap on full-time sub-degree courses, but only with extra resources. It accepts that colleges should not duplicate degree courses elsewhere, but says some growth is necessary to meet unsatisfied local need, particularly from part-time students.
"If the Government decides that degree provision in further education has to be restricted for policy or funding reasons, a reciprocal restriction should apply to Higher National provision by higher education institutions."
It praises Dearing and Garrick for acknowledging Scottish further education's contribution to higher education, with colleges providing almost 30 per cent of all higher education. But it warns that extra funds will be needed to improve quality and to extend provision, particularly for part-time students or mature entrants.
It questions a flat rate Pounds 1,000 tuition fee contribution, arguing that while Dearing calculated this as around a quarter of the present tuition costs for a full-time student year, it is closer to 40 per cent of the cost of full-time higher education students in Scottish further education colleges.