Funding gripes

27th April 2001 at 01:00
No one would say that the formulae for allocating money to further education colleges are easy to understand but there is more openness - as well as more money - since the Scottish Further Education Funding Council took over from civil servants. Not that that is much consolation for the four colleges which see their money reduced and have to depend on "transitional relief". They will inevitably think they are hard done by, and across the country lecturers are bound to query why Dundee at the top of the pecking order deserves 14 per cent more while other places are at virtual standstill.

The main answer is that finance follows students and colleges which have been successful in recruiting, especially in disadvantaged areas, reap the reward. If other institutions gripe they should do so o the Executive and not to the funding council. Within the overarching social inclusion strategy, better training ranks highly. Wendy Alexander, Lifelong Learning Minister, describes it as the "need to match those without work to the jobs without workers". Bursary money is also shared out in a way which benefits target groups of students and therefore particular colleges.

Ms Alexander's exhortations translate into funding formulae which also require colleges to be well managed. There is an irony that while principals and boards wrestle to secure the best deals and to apply resources fruitfully, the minister's own performance, wearing her enterprise and tourism tammy, would in a college have had the headhunters searching for a new principal and attracted funding council ire.

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