MPs want Pounds 350m for FE

May 22, 1998

Further education needs Pounds 350 million a year to fund growth, but the extra money should not come from the current education budget, an all-party committee of MPs will recommend early next month.

The House of Commons education sub-committee's report into further education, due to be published on June 4, is also expected to seek an immediate additional Pounds 60 million to fix crumbling buildings, Pounds 54 million a year to reduce efficiency gains and Pounds 40 million a year to help broaden participation.

The 100-page report, which was given its final vote of approval by the select committee this week, is said to be "cautious but thorough". Its 12 pages of recommendations include a demand for equality with higher education.

The current 2.75 per cent efficiency squeeze on further education must be cut in line with the 1 per cent squeeze on higher education, it will say. But there will be no demand for a transfer of cash from the richer universities sector.

The money must be found in the spending review and must not be transferred from other areas of education, the committee will say.

The report expects that of the promised 500,000 extra places in post-compulsory education, at least 430,000, or 140,000 full-time equivalents, should be in the college sector.

The report will also call for the Further Education Funding Council's funding methodology to be simplified to increase transparency and to cut "perverse incentives" such as the spread of controversial franchise agreements as cash-generating exercises. The principles of rewarding colleges for recruitment, retention and achievement should be kept.

The report is expected to urge a clampdown on sleaze in the sector, with an ombudsman for further education. It is also expected to call for all college governing bodies to have an independent clerk as a statutory requirement to uphold the laws of publicly funded institutions.

The report will also recommend:

* that students on work-related courses have access to a means-tested loan

* that the FEFC inspectorate inspect provision franchised to private providers on the same criteria as colleges themselves

* that all FE provision be inspected to the same standards.

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