Learning and skills councils are generally responsible for funding non-prescribed HE courses in FE colleges. The number of LSC funded learners in further education and work-based learning undertaking level 4 and above courses was as follows:
AY 2001/02—58,000 learners (representing 1.3 per cent. of LSC funded learners)
AY 2002/03—72,000 learners (representing 1.5 per cent. of LSC funded learners)
AY 2003/04—77,000 learners (representing 1.6 per cent. of LSC funded learners)
AY 2004/05—74,000 learners (representing 1.6 per cent. of LSC funded learners)
AY 2005/06—70,000 learners (representing 1.7 per cent. of LSC funded learners)
Data on the total number of HE non-prescribed courses are not currently available.
[holding answer 10 January 2007]: It is vital that we secure effective progression pathways for people looking to continue learning beyond level 3 either through further or higher education. Within their funding responsibilities, both the Learning and Skills Council and the Higher Education Funding Council for England have made important contributions to developing non-traditional pathways, particularly for people seeking to progress through the vocational route. Within our wider discussions with the funding councils about the future development of higher level skills and learning, we are considering whether there is a more effective way of organising responsibilities for funding the provision of non-prescribed higher education. Our further consideration of the issues will be set in the context of the changes needed to deliver the ambitions for higher level skills set out in the report from Lord Leitch on the UK’s future skills needs. We have asked the two funding councils to work together to assess the issues relating to the current funding of higher level skills provision and to make appropriate recommendations. There are a number of complex issues to be considered and we do not expect to reach conclusions before the summer.
[holding answer 11 January 2007]: This is a matter for the Higher Education Funding Council for England. However, to improve the accuracy of any relative assessment of this sort, it will be helpful to have comprehensive data on the full economic costs of teaching students in different circumstances, taking account of the relative costs of different subjects as well as mode of study. Such data will start to become available during 2007.