Further education sector improving but more progress required

26 January 2006 Share this LinkedIn

The Scottish Further and Higher Education Funding Council (Funding Council) is making progress on a number of fronts, according to a report published today by the Auditor General for Scotland, Robert Black.

“Financial health has generally improved at both sector and college levels following additional funding and there has been some success with its initiatives to improve college management and the condition of college buildings.”

“Concerns over performance management are being tackled and a more detailed picture of the sector’s achievements is emerging. These performance measures help college stakeholders to assess their progress in
critical business areas.”

However, the report highlights areas where further improvement is required.

  • Seven colleges still need to eliminate their accumulated deficits and two colleges retain the need for financial recovery plans;
  • The strategic direction for further education needs to be agreed to resolve apparent tensions such as ensuring supply and demand matches ministerial priorities;
  • Strategic leadership needs to be developed to ensure that the benefits of merger and collaboration are achieved;
  • The Funding Council needs to continue to encourage colleges to achieve benefits from improved performance information.

Mr Black concluded: “Overall my report indicates that the Funding Council has built up steady momentum on areas previously highlighted for concern. There is still more to be done but I am satisfied that the body is moving in the right direction.”

The Auditor General has reported five times on the further education sector. This study was undertaken at the request of the Scottish Parliament’s Audit Committee with the remit to assess a range of initiatives undertaken by the then Scottish Further Education Funding Council (SFEFC) which included improvements to financial health; the
adequacy and efficiency of provision of further education; and performance management.

SFEFC merged with the Scottish Higher Education Funding Council in October 2005 to form the Scottish Further and Higher Education Funding Council. The new Funding Council has a duty to provide the functions formerly provided by SFEFC.