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Minister cannot promise FE seats

The minister responsible for regions said this week that he could give no guarantees that colleges would be represented on the new development agencies.

His failure to give a firm pledge will dismay FE leaders who have been pressing for the right to representation.

Richard Caborn, minister for the regions, regeneration and planning, said he expected colleges to play an important role in the new development agencies.

But he could give no guarantees that colleges would be represented on the agencies in all regions.

The Minister said: "As the RDAs evolve, and I don't know exactly how they will do this - I think it will vary from region to region anyway - they will be looking at the structural weakness they have got in the skills base, they will be analysing that and seeing how they can encourage institutions to start addressing it."

"I see the FE colleges as playing a very, very important role. They are, with the training and enterprise councils, a major delivery mechanism now for further education," he added.

In its response to the Regional Development Agencies Bill, the Further Education Funding Council has said it wishes FE "to be recognised as a significant contributor to regional economic development and employment opportunities, and therefore be entitled to representation on RDAs."

But when asked whether FE will be directly represented on the new RDAs, Mr Caborn said: "Some they will and some they won't. But that doesn't worry me too much."

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