COLLEGES have been promised they will receive all the extra money they need to deliver Curriculum 2000, the new flexible exams for the post-16 students.
Those wanting to recruit more 16-year-olds this September than they originally planned for will have their funding allocations reviewed within the next few weeks.
Colleges should know by Easter how much extra money - if any - they will receive in 20001, David Melville, chief executive of the Further Education Funding Council said this week.
A total of pound;70 million is available to colleges which can demonstrate a clear demand for curriculum programmes - twice the sum originally set aside. However, Mr Melville warned the funding council would "wish to explore their track record for achieving growth" before colleges received extra cash.
Speaking at a conference in London, Mr Melville explained that initial allocations, announced in February, had been based on estimates that only about 50 per cent of 16 to 19-year-olds would choose the broader curriculum. But some colleges are reporting take-up rates as high as 90 per cent.
"We don't expect any 16-year-old to be turned away and expect all of their expanded programmes to be fully funded," he said. "There is not an artificial cap on funds for C2K."
A TES survey last month showed many colleges are struggling to recruit staf and find sufficient accommodation for the wider range of courses, including the new key skills qualification, which institutions are meant to offer from September.
Some college managers attending this week's conference said they were receiving larger-than-expected interest from students because school sixth-forms in their area were not planning to offer the full range of C2K options.
But Sue Carroll, director of curriculum planning at Barking College, said fewer than half of the 16 to19-year-olds at her college were currently doing "so-called C2K qualifications". She added: "They come to college because they don't want the same curriculum as they would face in a school sixth form."
Julian Gravatt, director of policy at Lewisham College, warned that colleges would need to demonstrate they delivered the necessary courses or else money would be "clawed back" the following year.
Many colleges would only know numbers for next year once GCSE results were published in August. "We can't take all the decisions until we know exactly who is going to turn up."
Chris Hughes, chief executive of the Further Education Development Agency, said colleges should seek to colaborate over C2K. "To say that you have the entire curriculum at your disposal is not going to work in the future, unless you are a very large institution."