Furious colleges warn of UfI delay

July 28, 2000

Further education colleges warn they may delay offering learndirect courses because their introduction has been poorly managed by the University for Industry.

College heads have complained of "naivety" by UfI administrators in the preparation for courses due to be launched in September. Colleges have also complained that the UfI proposes to take a 20 per cent cut of the funding for some courses.

Software needed to keep track of learndirect students has not been provided, say colleges. Learning materials and IT learning packages rejected by colleges a year ago have been presented by UfI for programmes. Some colleges say contracts with regional UfI learning hubs are not ready.

Steve Hailstone, director of funding and resources for Accrington and Rossendale College, said his college would not be ready to launch its learndirect learning centre until next year.

"We are not anxious to get into this too quickly, since we feel the preparation time has been insufficient," he said.

One principal of a large FE college said insufficient funding was at the root of the problems.

College leaders hope the problems will be addressed by a working group set up between the UfI and the Association of Colleges.

Judith Norrington at the AoC said: "It is in all our interests to ensure that the UfI learns from current practice and gets things right before going live."

Anne Wright, UfI chief executive, said learndirect was still on track for delivery in the autumn, and it was expected that nearly all colleges would be involved.

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