Leeds music college hits Higher note

August 12, 2005

The UK's biggest music conservatoire is celebrating its transfer from the further education to the higher education sector.

Leeds College of Music officials are hoping that the move will bring a boost in funding and status to their institution, which until now has been "invisible" to compilers of higher education league tables.

David Hoult, the principal, said: "We are one of the biggest providers of music higher education in the country, yet we have never featured in any league tables because further education colleges do not submit data to the Higher Education Statistics Agency."

As part of the further education sector, the college also missed out on a funding premium paid to conservatoires by the Higher Education Funding Council for England.

The institution's move to the higher education sector will double its funding. Mr Hoult said: "The transfer will help Leeds College of Music to move towards the same footing as other UK conservatoires, enabling us to improve our service to students by investing heavily in staff and facilities."

Investment has already begun, with the building of a new concert hall and a 13-storey student accommodation block.

The college qualified to transfer into higher education a year ago when it demonstrated that at least 55 per cent of its activity was higher education-based.

But Mr Hoult said there were no plans to shift the balance further in favour of higher education.

"Being a mixed-economy institution has advantages. If you are higher education-only, you do not quite have the roots going down into the soil of the local community that further education colleges have," he said.

Another source of cash was the BBC's Fame Academy , which part funded a summer school at Leeds College of Music for young songwriters. It is also funding three scholarships for students on the college's BA popular music course.

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