15/11/2011

Future Universities Tailored For Business – Hayes

Universities will need to change to meet the needs of employers, under proposed "radical" changes by the Further Education Minister on Tuesday.

Speaking at Tuesday's Association of Colleges Annual Conference, Skills Minister John Hayes set out a vision for a "stronger, more flexible and more independent" further education sector.

Mr Hayes said that under his new measures, colleges will take on "simplified governance" and data-management arrangements so they are able to react quickly to meet the skills needs of local employers, including those in new industries.

The plan will mean Universities are able to draw down student funding for programmes that meet a particular employer skill need whilst simultaneously developing a qualification.

The Minister said: “Further education is moulding the future of communities and the country. Over the last year we’ve seen remarkable progress. But there are still too many rules putting the brakes on progress and stifling innovation.

“I want to liberate colleges to be free to do what is right for their communities now. The changes we propose are radical, and by the end of this Parliament will transform the further education landscape.”

The University and College Union (UCU) has responded to the proposed changes saying they were concered at the "dangers" of for-profit higher education providers.

The UCU backed calls for the government to urgently reconsider the plans, which the union described as allowing "for-profit higher education providers access to increased public funds without passing regulatory standards".

UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: 'We are not alone in our concerns about for-profit education providers having access to more of taxpayers' money without facing the same regulations as our public universities.

"A cursory glance across the pond to America details the extent of the problems we may face without proper regulation of those seeking to make a fast buck out of our education system."

(DW)

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