Scotland's further education colleges have won a 9 per cent increase for teaching and a 15 per cent increase for student support in a deal announced today by the Scottish Further Education Funding Council.
This is the SFEFC's second funding round. It is a radical shift from the Scottish Office funding system, condemned by colleges as backward-looking and opaque. Funding now matches more closely what colleges deliver. The new round allows for an overall growth of 5 per cent, alongside an annual 1 per cent efficiency gain.
The SFEFC will allocate £414 million to colleges in this academic year, a rise of 12.5 per cent. It has today announced core teaching funding of £315 million compared with £290 million last year. This gives colleges an average increase of 6.9 per cent, ranging from a 14.5 per cent rise for Dundee College and a 15.3 per cent cut for Shetland College of Further Education.
Shetland, Lews Castle, Langside and Stevenson colleges have suffered cuts as they shift from historically based budgets, but the SFEFC has given them a total £2.2 million in safety-net funding. The safety net has been reduced by 50 per cent from last year.
The biggest winners are colleges that have increased student numbers and widened access, including Ayr, James Watt and Motherwell.
The Scottish Executive has given the sector a target of 40,000 extra students over the three years to 2002, rising from a 1998-1999 total of 421,000. Colleges' success in widening access is marked by a £5 million increase for fee waivers for part-time, low-income students. There is a £4.7 million pot for a premium for students from socially excluded areas, reflecting the costs of attracting them.
The SFEFC has also announced a £4 million funding stream to help retain entrants from underrepresented groups.
Scottish ministers want to see a level playing field for student support in higher and further education, with colleges' bursary funding rising from £41 million to £47 million. The basic bursary fund covers essentials such as maintenance and travel. There is an extra £3 million for childcare and £1.6 million to support young low-income students.
The SFEFC wants to see a cultural shift in further education, with colleges boosting students' skills and employability by becoming more adept in information and communications technology. There is a £2.5 million rise in last year's £13 million grant for ICT pervasiveness.
» Statistics section : Scottish further education funding