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How come no growth funding?

At 8.36am last Friday morning, just after the general election, Mid-Cheshire college finally received its indicative funding allocation for 2005-06. For the second year running, the Learning and Skills Council has proven unable, or unwilling, to support our bid for growth funding.

This year, my staff recruited an extra 127 full-time students in the "priority" 16-18 age group. The college was not awarded any additional funding to support this growth. The only response we could make was to cut a significant proportion of our adult provision. In September 2005, we will be faced with precisely the same issue. We expect to recruit 160 new full-time students but have been given a "standstill" allocation from the LSC. We are now looking at having to make further, deeper cuts in our adult provision.

In response to David Russell (Letters, FE Focus, May 6) who glibly states that colleges should simply "increase fees", I would make one simple observation: if LSC subsidy is withdrawn from a course, we would have to increase our tuition fees by 400 per cent to ensure the same level of income for the college. How likely, in the real world, is this?

In the publication "FE Planning and Funding for 2005-06", dated January 18, 2004 - and with Mr Russell's name at the bottom of the page - the LSC stated: "We will allocate funds to support an average 3 per cent growth in 16-18 provision. We will maintain the overall volume of adult provision."

The question most principals are now asking is: so what's happened in the past four months?

John Reilly


Mid-Cheshire college

Hartford, Northwich, Cheshire

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