This coming year will offer great opportunities to exploit the benefits of the merger of the Departments for Education and Employment. My department can now take a unified approach to the whole span of education and training. There is a natural logic in Government viewing education, training, the world of work and lifetime learning as a continuum.
In a tight spending round we have maintained our plans for current spending to provide for current expansion in the number of part-time students and to maintain the participation rate at present levels. Quality has remained satisfactory or excellent in nearly all the assessments carried out so far. Capital funding is being reduced, but the amount involved is small when viewed alongside the Pounds 1.6 billion of capital income which universities have financed for themselves with the help of the private sector in recent years. There should be scope for taking advantage of further help of this kind in the years ahead.
So, my goal for 1996 is making sure that the world of work and the world of education understand, listen to and profit from each other. I want the education system to deliver the skills, knowledge and competencies that employers and the wider community need and I intend to ensure that the energy, knowledge and efforts of the newly merged DfEE are harnessed to this end.