Keeping up with the Gateses stretches college budgets

9th February 2001 at 00:00
Neil Munro reports on the growing difficulties of taking learning into the digital age

The FE funding council has decided that colleges need a more urgent injection of cash for information and communications technology than it had envisaged.

As a result, pound;2.5 million earmarked for ICT is to be paid out this year instead of next, in addition to pound;5.5 million allocated this academic year for investment in infrastructure and the purchase of equipment. The new sum is modest, ranging from Aberdeen College's pound;166,000 share to pound;1,300 for the Sabhal Mor Ostaig Gaelic college on Skye.

As a study by a member of staff at Borders College calls into question an over-reliance on ICT (see blow), the council's analysis of college strategies for using ICT to support learning and teaching has shown that, while good progress is being made, "availability of computers remains a bottleneck on further development". The problem affects "a significant number of colleges".

Despite this a leading officer of the funding council has cautioned against over-hype. Writing in a recent issue of Broadcast, Bill Harvey, one of the council's deputy directors, says ICT has to focus on students' learning and the efficiency of the colleges. "Modern technology is very impressive, but if it doesn't improve the way a college is run or the ways in which students learn, what good is it?"

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