From education to employment

Funding council stresses importance of dialogues with colleges and universities

Scotland’s FE funding council has pledged its £1.5 billion budget into creating colleges that are “world-class”, following publication of its goals for 2006-2009.

The Scottish Further and Higher Education Funding Council (SFC) set out its vision for further and higher education in Scotland in its Corporate Plan for 2006-9, published last week.

The Funding Council plans to work in partnership with Scotland’s colleges and universities and other stakeholders such as business, students, staff and enterprise networks to deliver seven main aims. These include improving access to learning; increasing the relevance of learning; promoting internationally competitive research, and to provide support for Scotland’s international ambitions and to foster world-class institutions.

SFC Chair John McClelland said: “We all want to see an economically successful Scotland, a Scotland leading the way in innovation. My experience in industry and international business has taught me that having a well skilled and highly motivated workforce will help Scotland improve its position in the world economic league”.

He added: “That’s why this Corporate Plan allies itself closely to the Scottish Executive’s economic agenda for Scotland ““ at the end of the day we all want success for our country and high quality, relevant and innovative further and higher education has a major part to play in achieving that end”.

The plan, subtitled “Learning and innovation: helping to deliver Scotland’s strategy for the future”, suggests several ways in which the Council can contribute to the provision of training skills and organise research. These include strategic dialogue with the chairs and principals of universities and colleges and research pooling.

Pooling is aimed at increasing collaboration across universities, improving co-ordination and the better use of resources. One example is the Scottish Institute for Research in Economics (SIRE), a consortium of 10 Scottish universities which are investing £11.6 million in the initiative. The group, which is headquartered in Edinburgh, will focus on three main research themes: behaviour, incentives and contracts; work and well being; and macroeconomics, financial linkages and the regions.

The Plan also mentions “Learning for All” which tackles uneven patterns of education participation; “Learning to Work”, which enhances learners” employability and “Learning to Improve”, to raise quality across post-compulsory education in Scotland.

Tom Kelly, Chief Executive of the Association of Scotland’s Colleges, added: “The Corporate Plan gives a simple, clearer message not just to the institutions but for students and employers. ASC particularly welcomes the commitment to review teaching funding methodology”.

Annabel Hardy.

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