Tory MPs angry at Welsh funding plan

March 28, 1997

A House of Commons committee with a Conservative majority has criticised the funding of further education in Wales.

The Welsh Affairs committee, in a report issued this week, said the Government should reconsider the projected level of funding for the sector before the next public expenditure round.

And it was also critical of capital funding, which is set to fall from £17 million to £7 million over the next two years. The committee warns there is a danger that "smaller colleges, especially in rural areas, enter a spiral of decline".

The report sounds a recurrent note of concern over the outlook for rural institutions.

Commenting on the Further Education Funding Council for Wales policy of not bailing out colleges in financial trouble, it says: "We accept that unlimited resources should not be made available to colleges which simply fail to manage themselves properly. But the consequences of a college closing to a local community, at least in a rural area, could be intolerable."

The committee also calls for an increase in "rurality factor" funding for colleges in sparsely-populated areas and for special allocations for Coleg Harlech, an adult residential college. It also argues that resources are not being used to best effect, with duplication between colleges, schools and training and enterprise councils.

The present system of student support is described as "a mess" which should be replaced by a national mandatory system, and call for full-time further education students over the age of 18 to be admitted to the loans system.


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