Eyed to excess

27th August 2010 at 01:00

The Scottish Funding Council, ever seeking to justify its continued existence, has written to all colleges in Scotland about apparent "anomalies" between audited and individual returns related to the use of student support funding.

It has instituted yet more "checks" on the fidelity of data being provided by colleges. In some cases, colleges are being asked to comment on variances of pound;1 or pound;2 - against spends of up to pound;250,000.

This is all very interesting but, in a post-Crerar era where public services were promised a "lighter touch" and a more "proportionate" approach to scrutiny, the level of interrogation of colleges does seem to have reached a new and all-time high.

Can Scotland really afford this degree of "oversight" in the coming age of austerity?

The old adage says that "if you look after the pennies, the pounds will look after themselves". In the SFC's case, it seems that if you look after the pounds, the billions will presumably look after themselves.

Ian Graham, principal, John Wheatley College, Glasgow.

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