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Funding is becoming derailed

THE article about the further education management review by David McKenzie (TESS, February 2) demonstrates clearly what an ineffectual body the Scottish Further Education Funding Council has become.

The response of the Funding Council to the deepening problems in Scottish FE is to send college managers another big form to fill in.

This exercise in impression management will not, and cannot, resolve the crisis in further education, which is every bit as bad as that in the NHS or on the railways.

The Funding Council should stop behaving like a big board of management and recommend to the Scottish Executive that additional funding is necessary for the FE sector to meet the challenges that are being set for it by the minister; a return to national pay bargaining is necessaryto promote good industrial relations, accompanied by a package that, financially, matches that offered to school teachers in Scotland; and college boards of management are democratised to make them representative of, and accountable to, the communities that they serve and, to rid them of the gerontocracy and the employer interests that are dominant.

If, as seems to be the case, Wendy Alexander is attempting to create a national system of further education in Scotland, then she should give the Funding Council some real intervention powers.

And it is time that the Funding Council started to act like a real grown-up regulatory body or else be wound up, as part of Henry McLeish's "bonfire of the quangos".

Nicholas Taylor Convener, EISCLA branch Moray College Elgin

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