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Franchise courses to stay

The Further Education Funding Council has no plans to review the procedures for course franchising following allegations of a major fraud at Bournville College, Birmingham.

Earlier this year, the college called in the police after discovering that many courses funded through the college but run by groups in the community were bogus.

NATFHE, the lecturers' union, while supporting franchising as a means of reaching people who would not normally attend colleges, said rigorous checks were needed.

The FEFC said its guidelines for the forthcoming financial year were now more comprehensive. Graham Jones, head of the FEFC's West Midland's office, said he thought Bournville was an isolated case. He said a working party was monitoring the situation.

Patricia Twyman, principal of Bournville, said she had acted swiftly after a tip-off. A team was sent unannounced to addresses given by community groups said to be organising courses, and discovered 90 per cent of scheduled classes were not running.

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