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We are committed to choice

Joseph Lee's article "Colleges accused of failing to provide consumer data" (19 August) and his editorial in the same issue questioned whether colleges are doing enough to help prospective learners make informed choices.

The Government is strongly committed to creating a freer and more transparent market for FE and skills and is working closely with the sector to build on the good progress it has already made.

The Skills Funding Agency has already published detailed information on its website about FE colleges and other providers. This includes facts about student qualification success, employment and further study outcomes for former students, incorporates the views of learners and employers and is already enabling more informed choices about where and what to learn.

However, that is just the start. Last summer, I invited the Association of Colleges, the Association of Employment and Learning Providers and the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education to lead a project to develop a framework to improve the information available to learners, employers and their communities. That work will complete and strengthen information from next year.

I recently welcomed Baroness Sharp's interim report from the Independent Commission on Colleges in their Communities, which also emphasises the importance of shifting sector accountability from government to local communities.

And last week, our consultation New Challenges, New Chances made a range of proposals to improve the efficiency of collecting, publishing and using data. I look forward to hearing stakeholders' views on how we can take this work forward together.

John Hayes, Minister for FE, skills and lifelong learning.

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