Specialist help

10th July 2009 at 01:00

Given FE Focus's ongoing coverage of the capital issue, it is disappointing that your article on college expenditure on consultants ("Colleges spend millions on consultants", July 3) did not make the link between the two.

Many of the consultants employed will have been engaged for capital projects, such as surveyors and architects. Others will have been employed for specific information technology or other development projects that require the input of specialist professionals.

Similarly, the flexibility in the teaching workforce manifested by use of agency staff is often important in order to provide the most appropriate courses for learners across a broad and varied curriculum. A call to one or more colleges to check exactly how and why they engage with consultants or agency staff would have confirmed this.

Colleges are autonomous, independent institutions but they take their responsibilities as recipients of public funding very seriously and are rigorously monitored and audited by the Learning and Skills Council and others.

Evan Williams, Director of employment and professional services, Association of Colleges.

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