FAST-GROWING colleges have benefited from a pound;12 million windfall after their underperforming colleagues missed recruitment targets and were forced to pay back nearly pound;50m.
The money has been taken out of the pound;49m paid back to the Further Education Funding Council in the last financial year by colleges that failed to meet funding targets.
This amounts to around 1 per cent of the FEFC's budget.
The pound;12m has been distributed to 133 colleges that exceeded student recruitment targets.
In many cases the failure to meet funding targets comes about as a result of college mergers, with new or expanded institutions inheriting liabilities from those they have swallowed up.
Park Lane College in Leeds, West Yorkshire, has been told to repay more than pound;1m for failing to meet funding targets inherited through a merger two years ago.
The college believes it will have to pay back pound;1.4m although negotiations over the exact figure are still continuing with the FEFC. It inherited 100,000funding units when it merged with Airedale and Wharfedale College in 1998. Since then, it has been able to recruit sufficient students to qualify for 51,000 of the units but must reimburse the FEFC for the remaining shortfall of 49,000.
New College Nottingham must return pound;720,000 to the FEFC as a result of changes to franchising rules which made its relationship with one of its business partners ineligible for funding.
It must also refund pound;1.5m of European Social Fund money to the Department for Education and Employment because auditing requirements for the grant could not be met. The debt was inherited from Basford Hall College, which merged with three other institutions to form New
John Bolt, assistant director of funding for the FEFC, said: "The money which was redistributed has gone out to the selected colleges which overshot their targets and the rest will be used primarily for growth in the post-16
sector, and the introduction of Curriculum 2000."