Kennedy denies 'mugging' dons

October 17, 1997

MORE money for further education will probably mean less for universities, according to Helena Kennedy QC.

Baroness Kennedy, author of the report into widening participation in further education, told the Commons education sub-committee that, while she had no desire to "mug dons", she expected further education to scoop the lion's share of whatever money is available for post-16 education in this autumn's public expenditure round.

Roger Ward, chief executive of the Association of Colleges, has told education secretary David Blunkett that further education needs an extra Pounds 231 million just to stay afloat in 1998/99. "This year, because of funding cuts, we are turning away up to 250,000 students. Two thirds of colleges are trading at a loss and one in five is technically insolvent," he said.

Mr Ward said that Pounds 75 million would be needed for widening participation, Pounds 120 million for stabilising unit costs, Pounds 30 million for capital investment and Pounds 6 million for student support.

Baroness Kennedy blamed college funding methodology for undermining further education cohesion. She said it encouraged competition between institutions eager to recruit those students most likely to gain qualifications.

David Melville, chief executive of the Further Education Funding Council, also giving evidence, agreed that colleges needed about Pounds 200 million just to stand still in 1998/99. He said it was the council's intention to move away from competition between colleges.

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