Universities and colleges will have to sacrifice 20 per cent of revenues earned through the University for Industry if they sign up as an accredited UfI Learning Centre, writes Phil Baty.
One expert this week questioned the sector's willingness to pay for a kitemark as the UfI invited bids from consortia of colleges, universities, employers and voluntary groups and trade unions to set up a network of 1,000 official UfI learning centres across the country.
Successful consortia will pay the UfI Pounds 3,000 a year for the privilege of a UfI kitemark and will pay 20 per cent of all money raised by selling learning packages through the centres.
John Field, professor of lifelong learning at Warwick University, said that the Pounds 3,000 fee seemed reasonable, "but the 20 per cent could be a problem", as institutions may be reluctant to pay to offer qualifications and packages they already provide without the UfI infrastructure.
"Whether institutions will gag at the cost or pay up depends on the market," said Professor Field. "Will the UfI brand increase the market? I suspect that the UfI's market predictions are extremely optimistic."
The UfI said that the network of learning centres will each year deliver about 600,000 learning opportunities, each one attracting an average of Pounds 500.
The UfI has invited bids from more than 5,000 organisations. It wants proposals by July and will award contracts to 100 consortia. Under a fast-track scheme, the first learning centres will open in October. Others will follow in 2000.
The UfI has promised Pounds 5 million to help consortia set up learning centres and a Pounds 40 million, three-year marketing campaign.
"A lot depends on the promotional activities," Professor Field said. "Will the campaign resonate in the marketplace?"