Nolan number-crunchers

January 12, 1996

You included two useful, and contrasting, contributions on the Nolan inquiry on standards in public life (Opinion, THES, January 5). However, two other issues about further education corporations need to be considered:

First, why is it necessary for the secretary of state or the funding council to decide whether governors should be paid? When the FE sector was launched in 1993 politicians made great play of the "independence" being given to colleges. Should not these independent corporations have the right to make their own decisions about the issue of governors' remuneration? The PCFC Guide for Governors published in 1991 indicates that "the board has the power to pay its members such travelling, subsistence, or other allowances as the board may determine". Would that not be appropriate for FE colleges?

Second, little consideration appears to have been given to the possibility of some sort of compromise on the issue of remuneration to governors. Not all governors spend equal time on college business. Some governors, particularly committee chairs, are heavily involved in college business and this requires a huge amount of time. Is it beyond the realms of possibility that some payment could be considered for this group? Perhaps non-FEFC income could be used for this.

There is a danger that excluding the possibility of some remuneration for governors will skew the membership of governing bodies in such a way as to reduce their ability to reflect the community that they should represent. Any payments could be recorded in an open way and this would be sufficient to avoid any misuse of public funds.

Ben Bennett

Principal

Aylesbury College

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