Funding future unclear

July 24, 1998

Funding for universities and colleges from 2000 to 2002 still hangs in the balance as the government considers consultation responses to its Learning Age green paper.

Consultation ended today, and it is understood that the responses to the document will help shape the longer term funding plans for further and higher education, which will be announced in the autumn.

Despite welcome cash boosts for 1999-2000 announced in the comprehensive spending review last week, neither sector knows its fate for the following two years. The main message from the consultation appears to be that colleges should get the lion's share.

Helena Kennedy's widening participation group, which reconvened earlier this month to make sure that its agenda is not lost, has lamented the government's failure to meet its minimum call to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to study to National Vocational Qualification level three, equivalent to A levels. The Further Education Funding Council has warned that funding must be targeted to meet this pledge.

The Fryer group's response to the consultation, which has not yet been made public, is known to express concern about continuing inequalities in the funding of part-time and full-time students.

The Association of Colleges is worried that the two major government initiatives - the University for Industry and Individual Learning Accounts - need more attention.

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