Kennedy 'nobbled', FE claims

July 18, 1997

FURTHER education colleges may campaign for a share of higher education money amid claims that the university sector "nobbled" Helena Kennedy's drive for funding equity.

College principals say that Ms Kennedy QC was "leaned on" by the powerful university lobby causing her to "water down" her Learning Works report.

Ms Kennedy changed her draft report, which suggested a redistribution from higher to further education, to make it clear in the final report that there should be no raid on university funds.

There is widespread feeling among principals that the universities wanted to clear the way for Sir Ron Dearing's inquiry into higher education, ensuring that Ms Kennedy and further education would not rock the boat.

They say that this is because universities want to be in the driving seat if Sir Ron recommends greater collaboration between universities and colleges.

Keith Wymer, principal of Bilston Community College, said he spoke for around 100 principals, about a quarter of the entire sector.

He said: "Helena Kennedy was effectively nobbled. The Kennedy report will be a missed opportunity unless we start campaigning for funding equity now."

Joanna Tait, principal of Bishop Auckland College, said: "I think it is possible that higher education stamped on Kennedy in order to control the agenda for further discussions on post-16 education.

"Therefore, there may be things coming out of the Dearing report about partnerships between universities and colleges I would be vehemently opposed to."

Ms Kennedy, whose report was published two weeks ago, has denied any watering down, but admits to having "clarified" her position in the final report.

On funding, she wants cash to follow disadvantaged FE students, wherever they are educated.

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