An end to policy confusion

14th February 2003 at 00:00
THE proposals received a generally warm welcome even from the SNP's Alex Neil, convener of the parliamentary lifelong learning committee.

Mr Neil said the bulk of the committee's recommendations on lifelong learning had been accepted "to a greater or lesser extent".

These were the establishment of a lifelong learning forum, merger of the funding councils, the re-establishment of individual learning accounts, the piloting of business learning accounts, piloting a learning entitlement, a review of learner funding and streamlining quality mechanisms.

That left just two outstanding issues - the need for a combined review of the way institutions and learners are funded in the light of HE developments in England, and the fact that funding for FE and HE is a third less per head than in competitor countries.

Linda McKay, principal of Falkirk College, told a media briefing that she welcomed the measured approach in the strategy in contrast to the "frenzied approach and policy congestion" of the past.

But Ms McKay warned that increased participation in learning would impose new demands on colleges which would have to be resourced. She expressed disappointment at the failure to sign up - "at least yet" - to learning entitlements and said that colleges would continue to campaign for support for those not following traditional courses.

Matthew Farrow, head of policy at the CBI, pointed out that employers were the biggest investors in lifelong learning. He welcomed the business learning accounts "providing they did not become too bureaucratic".

Mr Farrow echoed Ms McKay in supporting the decision not to introduce "a raft of new initiatives but to build on what's there".

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