Universities and further education colleges were this week invited to submit collaborative bids for technology institutes (NTIs) that come with £25 million in capital funds.
The Higher Education Funding Council for England will be taking bids to set up and run the NTIs. Consortia must include a minimum of one higher education institution, one further education college and one private sector organisation.
Announcing the bids, education secretary Estelle Morris said: "The institutes will help meet growing regional needs for people with an in-depth knowledge of advanced technologies, and will improve collaboration between business and higher and further education."
Ms Morris announced the NTIs, which the government hopes will be up and running by autumn 2002, as the Learning and Skills Council published its first corporate plan aimed at improving participation in post-16 education and training. The LSC is responsible for the planning and funding of further education colleges and work-based learning. Its plan lists five targets:
* Raise the proportion of 16 to 18-year-olds in education and training from 75 to 80 per cent
* Raise the proportion of 19-year-olds gaining level-two qualifications from 75 to 85 per cent
* Raise the proportion of 19-year-olds gaining level-three qualifications from 51 to 55 per cent
* Improve literacy and numeracy among adults
* Raise the proportion of adults gaining level-three qualifications from 47 to 52 per cent.