The Learning and Skills Council, which oversaw a mismanaged national rebuilding scheme, allocated £2.7bn more than it could afford to rebuild England’s further education colleges, says a Public Accounts Committee report.
The government said mistakes had been made but the way forward was clear.” (Good old taxpayer!)
The committee based its report on evidence given to the Commons innovation, universities, science and skills committee, which earlier this month condemned the “catastrophic mismanagement” of the scheme by the Learning and Skills Council (LSC)
It accuses the LSC of over-stimulating the demand for funding and mismanaging the approval process, so much so that 79 projects were approved that it could not afford.
As a result, some 23 colleges have long term debts exceeding 40% of their annual income – the level generally agreed to be stable.
And 13 of those are now deemed to be at risk because of “inadequate financial health”, with many having to stump up millions of pounds to win LSC funding.
Skills Minister Pat McFadden said that since the college building programme began in 2001 it had rebuilt or renewed over half the further education estate.
“The report recognises its achievements: schemes have provided good value for money, are of high quality and have brought real benefits for learners.”
I wonder if that ‘good value for money, high quality and real benefit for learners’ includes the ’staircase to nowhere’ that was built in a prominent position in front of Aberystwyth University? Deconstructed Post-Modern Art apparently.
Perfect sybolism for a generation of debt laden students who would be emerging with their degrees, to find that they were going precisely nowhere.