Huw Richards reports from the fringe meetings at the Labour party conference in Brighton
Further and higher education's rare position as a key issue of the Labour conference was reflected in a giant audience for the Association of University Teachers/ National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education fringe meeting.
But there was no outbreak of hostilities between the two sectors when Helena Kennedy spoke on her further education report while Diana Laurillaud represented the Dearing committee.
David Triesman, general secretary of the AUT, asked jokingly which university would get the 500,000 extra students promised by Labour leader Tony Blair.
Baroness Blackstone, education minister in the House of Lords, replied that some of them would be going into further education. She hoped that some new students would be drawn from the one third of adults shown by surveys not to have had a day of education and training since leaving school.
Ms Kennedy underlined the sense of harmony by warning against sectorial turf wars over students or money. She said: "The system has to be all of a piece, because if it is not, there can be no ladder of opportunity."
She said the absence of a united strategy was one of the problems facing further education. Any such strategy had to take account of the network of partnerships that already exist, identify needs and reach out to communities. She repeated her call for lottery cash for a Learning Fund: "The people who put money into the lottery should be getting some reward."