Renewing the Physical Infrastructure of English Further Education Colleges

HC 924, Forty-eighth Report of Session 2008-09 - Report, Together with Formal Minutes, Oral and Written Evidence

Author:
House of Commons - Public Accounts Committee
Publisher:
TSO (The Stationery Office)

In 2001, the newly established Learning and Skills Council (the Council) took over a programme of capital works in the further education sector, to renew an estate that was too large, with much of it in poor condition and no longer fit for modern educational purposes.

By March 2008, a total of 4.2 billion of projects had been approved 'in detail', including grant support from the Council of 1.7 billion and about half of the estate had been renewed. Since April 2008, there has been a very serious failure in the management of the programme.

The Committee's conclusions and recommendations include:

  • The programme approved 'in principle' 79 colleges' projects, which required nearly 2.7 billion of Council funding more than it could afford.

  • Before the current problems arose, the programme had achieved some successes, enabling the estate to be reduced in size. The buildings are also generally of good quality and are contributing to increased learner participation.

  • The economic downturn could affect colleges' ability to fund projects by restricting their access to loan finance or their ability to sell surplus assets.

  • The indebtedness of the sector is rising. The Council needs to monitor closely the financial health of some colleges, particularly those that have borrowings that exceed 40% of their annual income.

  • In 2010, the Council is expected to be dissolved and its functions taken over by the Skills Funding Agency and the Young People's Learning Agency. There needs to be clarity about responsibilities for the capital programme and additional administrative burdens on colleges must be avoided.

Extent 45 pages ISBN 9780215540492
Size A4 Price £11.00
Format Paperback Published 28 Jul 2009
Availability Colour copy: 3 - 5 days Availability help (opens in new window) Delivery Delivery options and charges
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