The government announced a multimillion pound boost for further education this week as it launched the new Learning and Skills Council for post-16 education and training.
At a launch meeting held at Southwark Cathedral in London, education secretary David Blunkett unveiled plans for an further education pay initiative designed to bolster flagging recruitment and reward qualified lecturers.
A total of £300 million will be invested in the pay programme through to 2003-04, with £65 million - £15 million more than originally planned - made available for the rest of this year.
College chiefs, represented by the Association of Colleges, welcomed the plans, predicting that it should mean an 8 per cent pay rise for most lecturers.
Mr Blunkett said the extra money should mean that most further education and sixth-form college lecturers will qualify for pay increases of up to £2,000 by 2003-04.
The pay package includes "golden hellos" for new teachers of shortage subjects and additional funding to help part-time lecturers.
But lecturers' union Natfhe warned it would not be enough to avert a national pay strike planned to begin on May 22, in pursuit of a flat-rate rise of £3,000 for all lecturers.
Paul Mackney, Natfhe's general secretary, said: "We have been starved of cash for so long... that there is an inclination for us to be pathetically grateful for any increase. But no one should be under any illusion that this increase resolves the pay crisis."