College to audit its impact

An American-style approach to assessing the impact of further education on the wider community could seal the case for more funding.

Mid-Warwickshire College is being used as a test bed for a scheme which measures the economic impact of its work in terms of hard cash, following the lead of colleges in the United States and Canada.

Every college in North America undergoes a full audit every two to three years, so taxpayers see what return they get for their dollars.

Ioan Morgan, the principal of Mid-Warwickshire College, proposed the idea after visiting North Carolina, where every dollar spent on FE gave a $3 return to the economy in the state, in terms of increased earning and efficiency.

President George W. Bush used his speech at Piedmont Community College in Charlotte to pay tribute to the close working relationship between colleges and businesses in the state.

In Britian, as the US audit system is put to the test, the results are being eagerly anticipated by the Chancellor and the further and higher education minister.

Mr Morgan said: "Bill Rammell's eyes lit up when he saw the evidence of the returns. While the focus is on education for employment and skills, it also provides social and economic arguments for more general adult education."

Mr Morgan has been given pound;20,000 by the Learning and Skills Council to carry out a US-style impact study for his college. A report is expected in May, when it is expected the scheme will be extended to the 20 largest colleges in England.

Rob Wye, the LSC's director of strategy, said: "I am not saying the model the Americans use is the one for us, but it is a possible one and we are working with Mid-Warwickshire to see it develop."

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