David Blunkett must reconsider the ban on payments to college governors if he is to prevent an exodus of the best minds, a national survey by The TES has revealed. The regulations which stress that no one should benefit from membership of a trust - the status of college boards - are out of date and should no longer apply, governors say.
The survey - carried out in December - shows that up to a third of colleges are struggling to find the right personnel.
One clerk of governors in the Midlands admitted: "We simply don't have the inducements to attract people with the skills. They have very demanding jobs in areas like the finance industry and their time is big money."
Another leading governor put a reasonable level of payment at pound;5,000, the amount a few colleges paid before ministes stamped out the practice four years ago.
"We are not seeking to pay pound;5,000 to all 20 governors," he said. "Plenty of people will still be governors for the love of it. But some tasks you can only be done not for love but money."
Restrictions on some minor out-of-pocket expenses were given the green light last year, but only at the behest of the Secretary of State. Each payment must be individually sanctioned.
Since then, the demands on governors have escalated, particularly in areas of probity where internal scrutiny by search and audit committees is required.
Most colleges are suffering recruitment problems Many are, however, holding some vacancies open until they know the full impact of the latest changes to appointment procedures.
Survey details, page 34