27th March 2009 at 00:00

Funding in safe hands

Relax, everybody. Your capital funding problems are over. The Prime Minister has promised personally to look into the issue.

Adrian Sanders, Torbay's Liberal Democrat MP, tackled Gordon Brown - you may remember him from such stellar successes as "the economy", "civil liberties" and "the next election" - on capital funding at last week's Prime Minister's Questions.

He asked why South Devon College's Pounds 23 million project had stalled at a time when 800 jobs were being lost in the area and people would need retraining. Mr Brown told him: "I will look at the matter. I repeat that the investment that is to take place in FE colleges - it is a capital programme - will be Pounds 110m this year."

So there we have it: like a man on the Titanic reassuring the panicked crowds not to worry, there is one working lifeboat, the PM casually announces a cut of about Pounds 700m to an already overstretched capital budget.

If it were anyone else, FErret would speculate that Mr Brown was referring to extra spending that had been brought forward on top of this year's portion of the three-year Pounds 2.3bn fund. But he's not the type to make mistakes.

Building dreams

Here's another dispatch from the college capital funding wars. FErret is always pleased when further education gets the attention that it is due, so it was good to see that the news wires have been abuzz with discussion of the stalled building programme.

Red faces at Reuters news agency, however, which decided the best way to illustrate a story about FE's new buildings was to use a shot of King's College, part of the University of Cambridge, founded in the 15th century.

Colleges can probably take it as a compliment that they are now indistinguishable from one of the world's most elite educational institutions.

But in Reuters' defence, there is another point of comparison: King's celebrated chapel was completed in 1547 - more than a century after work began.

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