Losses force northern closure

A large advisory body which was set up to promote further education colleges in the north of England has been forced to close after the loss of lucrative contracts left it bankrupt.

It is the second of the big regional advisory councils to collapse in 18 months. The London and South East Regional Advisory Council (LASER) folded at Easter 1996.

The closure of the Yorkshire and Humberside Further Education Advisory Council (YAHFE) has left virtually all colleges in the counties without a united voice.

Vince Hall, principal of Dewsbury College and a member of the YAHFE board, said: "We have set up a regional Association of Colleges body to take over, but we have lost a lot of time and all the resources."

The collapse came after YAHFE lost a big contract to run the regional City and Guilds office.

It was part of a wider drive to save cash by the awarding body last autumn.

City and Guilds had a quality assurance contract with the regional office to provide information and support to colleges and training groups.

College staff at the time protested that the loss of the awarding body's regional offices would reduce the personal contact and make it harder to get advice on City Guilds' programmes and Mr Hall complained that the "shabby way" they had been treated did not bode well for future relations with City and Guilds.

The YAHFE failed find enough additional work to cover its rent. The collapse of LASER was also linked to the loss of a big City Guilds contract.

Mr Hall commented: "We have all been losers here. But the important thing is to move forward and make sure we secure through the new regional Association of Colleges places on the Government's regional development agencies."

Twelve regional advisory councils were set up to promote further education when colleges were under the control of local authorities.

After incorporation, they became independent and were forced to survive in the market-place.

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