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The Learning and Skills Council (LSC) Comment on Analysis of College Funding

The recently published analysis of college funding for the next three years has served to highlight the important issues that colleges wanted to establish for funding and budget decisions, say the LSC.

The analysis expects a steady increase in the number of students aged 16 ““18 studying full-time at further education colleges (an increase of some 9.2% during the period of 2004 / 05 ““ 2007 / 08), and a big injection of cash into new campus buildings (with a total of £2.88 billion anticipated, including £990 million from LSC funds). The analysis also examines the expected percentage staff costs for colleges and predicts an overall decrease in the number of adult learners in FE colleges (an expected drop of 4.8%).

The Information Required

Speaking of the analysis, Richard Healey, Director of Finance at the Learning and Skills Council, said: “We have always published colleges “past financial accounts, but this is the first time we have published this kind of forward-looking financial planning and forecasting information on such a scale and analysed it to help colleges benchmark themselves. This is the information the sector tells us it wants.

“Data collection and how we use data is also a very important theme in our agenda for change programme for the transformation of the further education sector,” he continued. “Not only are we committed to simplifying the whole process of collecting data, we also want to ensure that we use it not just for our own purposes, but to the very best effect for the sector ““ in this case sharing it with colleges to give them information that helps them identify trends and examine and improve their own financial performance.”

A Regular Event

The work was welcomed by colleges. Nirmal Borkhataria, Director of Finance and Resources at Ealing, Hammersmith and West London College, said: “I believe this is a very positive initiative by the LSC. College finance directors welcome information of this kind that highlights emerging trends in the sector, gives early warning of pressure points we are likely to face in the future or which helps us benchmark ourselves with fellow institutions in our particular area of further education.

“This is an excellent first step,” he continued. “I am sure finance directors in further education like me will continue to work with the LSC in future to ensure that this becomes an annual affair, along with enhancements in the information and the way it is presented, one that I am sure will be of great assistance to colleges in their forward planning.”

Mr. Healey stated that this would become a part of the calendar for FE, saying: “We will make this an annual exercise and throughout the process we”ll consult the sector to ensure we refine and develop the information in a way that best meets its needs for benchmarking.”

Jethro Marsh

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