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Is this a new era?

IT was good to have the joint reassurance of Messrs Harwood and Melville that the move from the old funding regime to the new is progressing well and is on target (FE Focus letters, January 12 2001) and that a high priority will be the "stringent protection of the public purse".

But what of the service? Will the widening participation agenda at last be adequately addressed?

Will students who need personal and sustained support get it? Will needy communities at present with little or no sigificant learning facilities have this financed without having to be self-sufficent in a ridiculously short time or to seek matched funding? Will colleges and other providers be encouraged to innovate with new techniques to design, promote and deliver lerning without having to look over their shoulder to see "if the rules have been changed"?

And will enterprises that generate surpluses be encouraged as an addition to adequate funding and not as a substitute for it?

It has now been admitted that thecurrent funding policies could have been more flexible and responsive to need, but in many cases the damage has been done to the infrastructure and recovery will be long and costly.

What assurance can we have that formulaic funding rigidly imposed will not also be transferred to the new council as part of the smooth transition?

Ken Ruddiman

Future Perfect Selby, N Yorks

Send letters to:FEFocus Letters page, TES, Admiral House, 66-68 East Smithfield London E1W 1X

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