V-Cs protect quality

September 15, 1995

Universities and colleges have presented the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Kenneth Clarke, with a multi-billion pound list of measures needed to protect standards in further and higher education.

In its submission for this year's public expenditure round, the Committee of Vice Chancellors and Principals warns that cuts in the unit of funding and the general squeeze on resources in higher education "cannot be sustained without damaging quality".

Staff pay, staff/student ratios, the quality of the student experience, central resources and building maintenance, have all suffered as a result of efficiency gains over the past ten years, the committee claims.

Identifying six priority areas for 1996/97, its submission report calls for a halt in the decline in unit funding, more investment in staff training, extra capital funding, support for health and safety standards, resources to improve facilities for disabled students, and a reduction in the costs of student loans administration.

Meanwhile the Association for Colleges has urged the Government to sustain growth in further education beyond the planned expansion to 1997/98.

The association wants funded student numbers to continue to grow by at least 3 per cent per annum until the year 2000.

Its submission also calls for a Pounds 40 million increase in capital funding, more investment in equipment, support for meeting the costs of European legislation for part-time staff, and more funding for new technology.

Mr Clarke may consider bids for more money from the FE sector alongside pressure from industry for maintenance of the training budget.

The Confederation of British Industry said this week that although it was asking the Chancellor to keep a tight rein on public spending, it was also stressing the importance of sustaining present levels of investment in training.

The AfC's submission points to the important role played by FE colleges in promoting "lifelong learning", meeting the needs of business and industry, and contributing towards the achievement of national education and training targets.

But it warns: "There is a danger that, if present PES forecasts are not revised, colleges will not be able to maintain the level of output and quality required to meet national objectives."

FURTHER AND HIGHER EDUCATION SHOPPING LIST CVCP

+Stable unit funding until 1997/98: Pounds 400 million +Buildings maintenance: Pounds 1 billion +More teaching accommodation: Pounds 840 million +New technology: Pounds 100 million +Health and safety: Pounds 133 million AfC

+Continued expansion until 2000: Pounds 90 million p.a.

+Capital investment until 2000: Pounds 40 million p.a.

+Equipment until 2000: Pounds 50 million p.a.

+EU law costs: Pounds 60 million

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