Setting the data straight

The National Audit Office report on college procurement says three-quarters of colleges did not provide detailed information on their spending.

The TES (November 3) said the colleges were "unable" to provide the information. To be more exact, colleges did not provide the data and weren't pushed to do so.

The office sent its survey with 118 questions to college principals on December 5, 2005, and asked them to reply within two weeks. It took one senior college accountant two full days to complete the survey, which asked questions in a different way to other data requests.

The Association of Colleges challenged the office on the unnecessary complexity of its survey. We were told we should not worry because enough data had been collected from the 25 per cent of colleges which had provided a complete set of data.

If push came to shove, the others could have supplied the data, but sometimes colleges have more important things to do.

Julian Gravatt

director of funding and development Association of Colleges

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