THE FURTHER Education Funding Council has dropped attempts to cap student recruitment in the face of legal threats from colleges and a Government climbdown.
FEFC chief executive David Melville wrote to college principals last week telling them, effectively, to ignore the recruitment cap imposed by way of a similar circular sent on January . The original circular explained that the council could not guarantee the extra demand-led element (DLE) funding to colleges because of the Government's decision to end grant-in-aid for DLE.
The cap led to three colleges, Newham, Waltham Forest, and a college which refused to be named, starting preparations for a judicial review. They claimed that the council recruitment restriction was unlawful and that it contravened the funding guidance for 1996/97.
But, under pressure from the FEFC, the Department for Education and Employment has since relented and has guaranteed funding for the bulk of DLE until the end of the current teaching year. The Government will stop funding DLE from the end of this year.
The three colleges have suspended their legal challenge and are, along with colleges across the country, preparing their responses to the FEFC's consultation regarding funding in the light of the Government's withdrawal from DLE.
* The FEFC has set up a working group to consider funding differentials between London colleges and those outside the capital. The move follows outrage expressed by many London college principals at FEFC funding convergence proposals. They claimed that funding London colleges on the same basis as those elsewhere would be devastating in the capital where the costs of providing FE are far higher. The working group is due to report in the summer.