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College loans for senior staff fuelled improvement

The Newham College branch of the lecturers' union NATFHE asks: "Who is going to count the cost in opportunities lost?" (TES, July 5). The answer is that the total cost to the college in 199495 of the "fat-cat" loans to senior staff was approximately Pounds 5,200 from a total expenditure of Pounds 22 million.

Few opportunities, if any, were lost that year as the college implemented for the first time a truly open-access admissions policy, and successfully guaranteed all students (school-leavers and adults) a place, while tuition fees forthose most in need were reduced to zero and child-care places increased.

In fact, the senior staff loans may have contributed in a small way to all of this. The TES article did not mention the reciprocal responsibility of the senior staff concerned to provide and use a car for normal work purposes entirely at their own cost (no car-user allowances or expenses are paid).

Given the nature of the college and senior staff duties, work mileage tends to be high. We believe that this package probably saves money when compared with the old local authority system of subsidised car loans plus generous allowances and mileage. Also, contrary to the article, the loans are secured by an appro-priate agreement with each individual, and there is no risk to the college.

MARTIN TOLHURST Principal and chief executive Newham College of Further Education East Ham campus High Street South London E6

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