The Scottish Executive seems set to ignore a parliamentary committee's proposal for a learning entitlement for all because it would be too expensive to implement, writes Olga Wojtas.
But it has promised to draw up plans early in the new year for the Scottish further and higher education funding councils, which the enterprise and lifelong-learning committee has proposed should merge by 2007.
The committee recommended that everyone should have an entitlement equivalent to six years of full-time study after completing the fourth year of secondary school. In a parliamentary debate on the report, enterprise and lifelong-learning minister Iain Gray said it was a "powerful" concept, but the committee itself had accepted the importance of taking forward the entitlement within existing budgets.
The committee called for the entitlement to be linked to the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework, which established a common system of points for all mainstream qualifications. But Mr Gray said: "It would be premature to attempt to load anything more on to the framework before it was properly bedded in."
He said the executive would give a "considered response" to the report in its strategy document for lifelong learning, expected in January.
Mr Gray sidestepped the call for a single funding system for lifelong learning. He said: "Care needs to be taken with the way in which figures are analysed. Comparisons of simple averages do not recognise the complexities within and across the sectors."