Further education colleges are short of cash. Some think working with higher education institutions is the answer, but Scottish colleges have been penalised for doing so.
Scotland's further education colleges have welcomed a pledge from Scottish Office education minister Raymond Robertson to review the way their grants are calculated.
Mr Robertson made the promise as he announced the 43 colleges' grants for 1997-98, which total Pounds 231 million. Eleven colleges would have suffered a drop of more than 6 per cent on the basis of the Scottish Office Educational and Industry Department's current formula, which measures student activity rather than places, but they will be able to bid for additional safety net funds if they submit acceptable recovery plans.
Graham Clark, principal of Falkirk College, which has been safety netted, said the existing funding methodology was "totally unfair" to large colleges with a high proportion of higher education work.
"We have grown by 5 per cent in the past year, and the prize for that is to lose 6 per cent of our money," he said. "It's quite clear that the total allocation to the sector is inappropriate, and I think a lot of people are more than a little annoyed that money is getting pumped into the higher education sector, which isn't growing, while there is 9 per cent growth in the further education sector and at best we are standing still."
* More than a quarter of Scotland's higher education students are studying in further education colleges, according to the ASC.
The ASC's submission to the Dearing inquiry highlights higher education provision in the colleges, which, unlike south of the border, is funded by the Scottish Office and not the Higher Education Funding Council.
Scottish further education college grant allocations for 1997-98
College Grant (Pounds )
Aberdeen College 13,825,100
Angus College 3,475,900
Anniesland College 4,539,000
Ayr College 4,563,600
Banff & Buchan College of Further Education 3,644,100
The Barony College *1,156,300
Bell College of Technology *4,736,900
Borders College 4,036,000
Cambuslang College 4,212,800
Cardonald College 6,472,300
Central College of Commerce 4,533,500
Clackmannan College of Further Education 2,289,800
Clydebank College 6,137,900
Coatbridge College 3,683,800
Cumbernauld College 2,910,700
Dumfries and Galloway College 4,832,600
Dundee College *9,377,900
Elmwood College *3,007,400
Falkirk College of Further & Higher Education *7,355,300
Fife College of Further & Higher Education *6,641,600
Glasgow College of Building and Printing 5,557,400
Glasgow College of Food Technology 3,068, 300
Glasgow College of Nautical Studies 3,690,000
Glenrothes College 5,010,900
Inverness College *5,614,300
James Watt College of Further & Higher Education8,795,100
Jewel and Esk Valley College 7,049,300
John Wheatley College 3,611,400
Kilmarnock College 5,392,100
Langside College 6,412,300
Lauder College 5,516,600
Lews Castle College *1,842,700
Moray College 4,593,900
Motherwell College 7,936,000
North Glasgow College *5,390,000
Oatridge Agricultural College 1,745,200
Perth College *5,417,700
Reid Kerr College 8,198,800
Stevenson College 10,600,700
Stow College 4,469,700
Edinburgh's Telford College 13,111,900
Thurso College 2,394,100
West Lothian College *4,309,200
* Safety-netted colleges whose grant would otherwise have fallen by more than 60 per cent.