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Further Education: Finance

Volume 475: debated on Tuesday 6 May 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills whether he plans to make intervention funding available to the Learning and Skills Council to support (a) further education colleges and (b) proposed mergers of further education colleges between 2008-09 and 2010-11; and if he will make a statement. (202977)

As the statutory planning and funding body for further education, it is for the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) to consider how it uses the funds it receives in line with stated priorities. The Department does not propose to make an additional budget available specifically for intervention at this point. Where it has been identified that a college may be underperforming, LSC will normally issue a notice to improve and support is provided to address the areas of weakness. This may be an improvement advisor appointed by the new FE improvement body or another support package drawn from other improvement services, depending on the circumstances. Strategic options, which may include formal collaboration with another institution, may also be explored. Intervention powers will apply only in the most serious cases of underperformance where a college has not made the required progress against the notice to improve, and the LSC and the governing body cannot agree a way forward.

While there is no specific fund to support merger proposals, the LSC may decide to support the development of proposals in a number of ways e.g. support for feasibility studies.