Colleges make the connection

I am writing in response to your article entitled "Technical hitch for England's colleges" (FE Focus, July 14), which unfavourably compared college internet connections with domestic broadband.

The Learning and Skills Council funds a programme of initiatives to embed the use of technology in learning and teaching. Connections to the Joint Academic Network (JANET) are part of this investment programme and are linked into the Department for Education and Skills' e-strategy priority to develop a national education network for the entire education sector using the JANET network.

The LSC has responded to the increased demand for bandwidth in English FE institutions by funding an upgrade programme from 2004 to 2006 to move them from a two megabyte per second to a 4Mbps or 10Mbps connection where the appropriate demand was identified.

The funding process is extremely simple - the LSC funds the United Kingdom Education and Research Networking Association (UKERNA) to give every English FE institution up to 10 Mbps access to JANET. Where a college requires more bandwidth it may negotiate with UKERNA to increase its bandwidth at its own cost. Only 5 per cent of FE institutions are exceeding their current funded bandwidth.

The LSC is now investigating the value for money, cost effectiveness and sustainability of a national funding model and will want to consult with the sector to discuss preferred solutions.

Melanie Hunt

Director of learning

Learning and Skills Council

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