National Audit Office
London: TSO, 2011 (House of Commons papers, session 2010/12; HC 1590)
This report explores a range of initiatives to simplify funding, qualification and assurance systems in further education. The scale of the problem faced by further education colleges and other providers is not yet known, but it is estimated that the administration of funding, qualification and assurance systems is costing further education colleges around £180 million a year, which equates to £150 per student. The NAO has further estimated that this cost amounts to around £250 million a year for all types of further education colleges and other providers, even assuming the other providers bear only half the costs of general further education colleges. A series of initiatives to simplify the system have been developed to target the most costly burdens, but a complete picture is needed of the final operating model for the funding, qualification and assurance system, supported by a detailed plan of how to get there. It is not yet known how much the new system will cost or the impact it may have. There are various initiatives underway, but they are not well coordinated and further education colleges and other providers, although welcoming the changes, do not have confidence that the simplification of the system of administration will be sustained.