FE's new mantra

THE report prepared for the Scottish Further Education Funding Council on FE supply and demand (page one) is significant by any measure and has a wealth of detail on what is missing from this equation, what should be done and what could be done. At last it helps move the all too necessary obsession in the past with colleges' financial efficiency to their educational adequacy.

It is not necessarily the fault of the report that its analysis begs more questions than it answers. The consultants were given a rather narrow remit - to look at whether there was latent demand across Scotland that was unmet by colleges. But since there is a variety of providers, it is not clear from the report whether low participation in some parts of the country means demand is not being met at all or simply that colleges are failing to win their share of the business in some cases.

Given that progress may be choked off at any given moment by the contrariness of funding policy (as many argue is just about to happen over the next two years), will the new mantra of "collaboration, collaboration, collaboration" be sufficient? Tapping new markets can be a costly business and it did not take the consultants long to conclude that the bottom line for the colleges is that, financially, "the sector is generally in bad shape" and poorly equipped to respond.

Log in or register for FREE to continue reading.

It only takes a moment and you'll get access to more news, plus courses, jobs and teaching resources tailored to you