Scams, financial crises and other 'demand-led' fiascos

30th June 2006 at 01:00
Efforts to make colleges provide courses that meet the demands of the marketplace have a chequered history.

When colleges were freed from local authority control in 1993, the then Tory government created a range of measures with this aim, including franchising courses to industry. The state paid for staff training if real "added value" was identified for employers.

So Halton College registered Tesco shelf-stackers, Bilston had partnerships with operatic societies and brass bands. South Devon ventured into Scuba diving. All made perfect sense - until inspectors blew the whistle.

Then there was so-called "demand-led" funding which gave colleges a bottomless well of cash for growth, although at a cut price per student.

Recruitment hit record highs until scams and bogus courses were unearthed.

The scheme was abandoned - plunging some 70 colleges into debt.

Then New Labour tried individual learning accounts. , supposedly a miracle cure for the skills deficit. Instead, fraud and lack of quality safeguards led to its ignominious demise.

So, when the Government talks up the skills-led agenda and Train to Gain, and pushes demand-led funding regimes for colleges and other providers, there will be inevitable concern that the schemes will be flawed or bogged down in bureaucracy.

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today