Towards a better way of funding further education

30th May 1997 at 01:00
Derwentside College senior management team is correct to criticise a funding mechanism that still rewards colleges with low average levels of funding (ALF) if they have achieved this through past practices that are currently frowned upon.

If fairness is sought, however, the assessment of what is high ALF or low ALF itself requires refinement.

Most high ALF colleges are so because of inheritance rather than current operations, so why can't we have a point of convergence (say Pounds 16 per unit) in one year, based on key elements of operation to ensure a level playing field? All the colleges that started off with positive balances and assets could share them out with other colleges like us who inherited deficits and liabilities. This would give us all an equal chance to meet the standard ALF.

I somehow think that there is as much chance of that as there is of David Blunkett winning the election for the Tory leadership.

A final thought: forget about a Pounds 16 ALF. Let us see it at 1p less than sixth forms effectively get.

KEN RUDDIMAN

Principal

Sheffield College, Sheffield

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