Ministers to tackle college funding bureaucracy

November 23, 2001

Ministers and funding chiefs have undertaken to tackle crippling bureaucracy and an audit burden that is overwhelming further education colleges.

John Harwood, chief executive of the Learning and Skills Council, this week spelt out plans to cut red tape by 25 per cent from next year.

He told delegates at the Association of Colleges annual conference in Birmingham that fundamental changes would be made to the way colleges apply for and receive funding.

Earlier, education secretary Estelle Morris promised that the government was "serious about trying to get hold of this monster that is the FE funding system".

She told the conference that the first step would be to simplify the LSC's £160 million standards fund from next year, removing the need for colleges to bid for a share of the cash.

But college principals warned that while this was welcome, their institutions needed to escape from being weighed down by having to deal with dozens of other funding streams and associated audits.

Mr Harwood told The THES that the funding streams from the government were being cut from 44 to ten and that the LSC would streamline the rest of the system.

A consultation on moving towards a system where colleges are paid for a service provided will begin next year.

"This is all about trying to make sure we spend money in colleges on things that are important in colleges - the learning and teaching," he said.

Next year, the government will launch a consultation on the development of a national programme of training and professional development for Further Education managers, including the creation of a new leadership college.

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