PAC attacks Welsh failures

June 18, 1999

Parliament's spending watchdog has expressed anger over persistent "failures of accountability" in further and higher education.

This week in a stormy evidence session on financial collapse at Gwent Tertiary College, the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee attacked Welsh further and higher education funding council chief executive John Andrews for "stupefying" responses to questions and for "extraordinary complacency".

Professor Andrews admitted that the funding council had "made mistakes" in handling problems at Gwent.

The hearing was the latest and most vociferous of a series of attacks by the PAC on accountability failures in further and higher education. It has increased speculation that the committee will call for more interventionist powers.

In 1997, Gwent fell rapidly into a Pounds 3 million deficit through mismanagement. The Welsh funding council judged the college to be financially "satisfactory" as late as March 1997.

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