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Listen to Nolan, or give us a seat

The chief executive of the Further Education Funding Council says colleges should be represented on training and enterprise council boards unless ministers back Nolan and remove a clash of interest.

TECs are currently represented on college governing bodies but Lord Nolan's Committee on Standards in Public Life said this practice should end.

FEFC chief executive David Melville made the plea for reciprocal rights for colleges at the FEFC annual general meeting in London this week.

Nolan objected to TEC representation on college governing bodies saying there could be a clash of interests as colleges compete for TEC training contracts. "This is a well-intended effort to ensure co-ordination between local employers and colleges, but it does raise questions of propriety," he said.

But Chris Humphries, policy director for the TEC national council, said: "Nolan misses the point." He added TECs had a statutory responsibility and were responsible for developing college business links.

"TECs are charged by the Government to be the strategic voice for employers. Government instituted the representation. What Nolan is saying is inconsistent with Government policy."

But Roger Ward, chief executive of the Association of Colleges said it was "inappropriate" for TECs to be on college boards and it interfered with their independence. "TECs are in the position to hand over public money to competitors who are other providers."

Ministers, known to be wavering on whether to back Nolan's recommendation, plan to issue a consultation paper shortly.

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