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Beyond the barriers

The Lifelong Learning Minister gave colleges glowing praise yesterday (Thursday) at the launch of the annual report for further education. Jim Wallace said FE was "the linchpin of delivery on skills and inclusion", adding that it "continues to deliver what we ask in a way which is robust, flexible, innovative and professional".

Mr Wallace, who pointed out that the Executive had boosted funding by 20 per cent in the three years to 2006, pledged: "We shall maintain our support in every possible way." He acknowledged that "demand for FE places is unrelenting". But he suggested this was clear evidence of the success of the Executive's social inclusion policies "since many students, in days gone by, would not have dreamt of seeking a college place".

The annual report contains little new, being largely a rehearsal of events in the past year. But Mr Wallace said there was now a greater focus on learning. "We have overcome many barriers in increasing access."

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