Sizer urges respect for parliament

January 4, 2002

John Sizer retired this week as founding chief executive of the Scottish higher and further education funding councils full of praise for devolved Scotland, writes Olga Wojtas.

He said he took the Scottish Parliament "very seriously" and claimed that universities had been slow to appreciate its importance.

He said: "I've never appeared before a committee of the House of Commons, but now I'm a regular performer (at Holyrood) and I think that's important. I think the institutions have yet to grasp that it's the parliament's money that the council is allocating."

One performance was before the enterprise and lifelong learning committee. It investigated the Scottish Higher Education Funding Council's proposals to streamline its teaching funding formula.

Professor Sizer said he had no problem with the committee's inquiry but said that the dispute was resolved before the committee reported. The committee has now said that there must be an independent inquiry. Professor Sizer said that the problems arose in part because senior management time had been diverted from Shefc after the launch of the Scottish Further Education Funding Council two years ago. The council found many colleges in serious financial difficulties.

Professor Sizer believes Scotland should have a single tertiary funding council, but that the further education sector must be stable before that is feasible.

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