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Colleges spell out costs to ministers

Ministers face a stand-off with college leaders who have warned that plans for the expansion of further education will fail without a pound;3 billion cash injection.

The call for extra cash is a direct challenge to Alan Johnson, the higher and further education minister, who has privately told principals of FE and sixth-form colleges to expect very little from the Chancellor's spending review.

The Association of Colleges says the extra funding must be pumped in during the second and third years covered by the spending review if it is to achieve targets including 16-19 expansion, and participation in HE through the FE route.

John Brennan, chief executive of the AoC, outlines the case for more money inside FE Focus this week.

He said: "Despite the considerable turnaround since 1999, government aspirations for the sector have run ahead of the funding it has been willing to make available. It will be vital that this disparity be tackled in the current spending review."

The AoC calls for an injection of pound;1.121bn in 2006-7 and pound;1.977bn in 2007-8. During the two years, colleges will need pound;681 million for pay modernisation, pound;453m for increasing numbers of 16 to 18-year-olds, pound;228m for extra 14 to 16-year-olds and pound;258m towards level 2 workforce skills.

The AoC's paper says money is also needed to cover the knock-on costs of the reform of FE teacher-training. The AoC predicts this will require the equivalent of one experienced lecturer for every 20 trainees, at a cost of pound;25m a year.

Colleges will also have to find the staffing to provide cover for two hours a week of non-contact time for trainee lecturers, at a cost of pound;23m.

The AoC estimates an extra pound;131m will be needed to cover training reforms over the two-year period.

The bid also points to a looming crisis over college buildings, suggesting there should be a pound;21bn programme running up to 2025. Another pound;20m a year could be needed just to make sure all colleges comply with the law on access for people with disabilities.

Julian Gravatt, director of funding and development at the AoC, said: "We support the Government in its objectives and all we are doing is telling them 'this is how much it will cost'."

John Brennan 4

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