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Stubbs' last move to ensure honesty

An independent watchdog has been appointed to handle colleges' complaints of maladministration against the Further Education Funding Council.

John Bevan OBE, former chief executive of the Association of Colleges of Further and Higher Education and ex-secretary of the Association for Colleges, becomes the first ombudsman specifically overseeing any education sector.

His appointment by the FEFC, the quango which distributes over Pounds 3 billion of public funds annually, marks the final stage in outgoing chief executive Sir William Stubbs' moves to build in a system of controls to ensure probity in FE.

Mr Bevan will deal with complaints against the FEFC by colleges and other institutions it funds once the council's own internal complaints procedure is exhausted. He will not handle grievances against colleges, which are dealt with by the institution itself.

His decisions will be published and he will have full discretion over how he conducts his inquiries.

The FEFC wishes to ensure full public scrutiny of its actions, Sir William said.

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