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NEC's future not in doubt

In response to the letter (24 June) about the sale of the land of the National Extension College (NEC) site in Cambridge, we would like to point out that the future of the NEC as a business is not in doubt and it is not closing down.

The Learning and Skills Network (LSN) is working with the management and staff to develop an integrated and viable model for the NEC as part of our existing, successful technology-for-learning offer.

LSN has made significant investment in the NEC since the merger last year. Initially, it cleared both the mortgage and outstanding loan, amounting to an investment of pound;1.78 million. Subsequently, LSN spent considerable sums analysing the continuing decline in NEC business and preparing new business models. Since then, significant further investment has taken place in terms of building a new website and providing technical development and expertise to support the development of a business model that will reverse that decline.

This significant investment should enable the NEC to continue to offer its core open and distance learning business and will also enable it to extend and diversify its areas of work to provide innovative and flexible learning to a much wider audience.

We would have liked to have moved forward more quickly but, like many charities, LSN has suffered as a result of the present economic situation and has had to become a much leaner organisation. In order to provide a future business for both the NEC and LSN, the decision was taken to sell the land in Cambridge in line with plans originally developed by NEC trustees.

The similarities in the charitable objects of the NEC and LSN were a key consideration at the time of the merger and we continue to see these as an important feature of the merged organisation. We remain fully committed to the Michael Young legacy and take care to ensure that the themes are integrated in all of LSN's work.

Yvonne Smithers, Chief executive, LSN.

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