COLLEGE: Government minister's reply to this newspaper re threats to Fenland campus
THANK you for your letter, addressed to Gordon Brown, in which you expressed your concerns for the College of West Anglia s proposed capital project in the light of the Learning and Skills Council s (LSC) review of the capital grants programme. I am respo
THANK you for your letter, addressed to Gordon Brown, in which you expressed your concerns for the College of West Anglia's proposed capital project in the light of the Learning and Skills Council's (LSC) review of the capital grants programme. I am responding as Minister for Further Education.
Following the recent Budget announcement, the acting Chief Executive of the Learning and Skills Council - Geoffrey Russell - wrote to all College Principals, and the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills wrote to all MPs - updating them on the additional capital funding and confirming the key next steps for taking the capital programme forward. The additional funding of �300 million for this spending review period (2009-10 and 10-11) will allow the LSC to give approval to a limited number of projects starting in 2009-10.
Understanding the long-term nature of capital projects, the Government is planning a continuing FE capital investment programme in future years, with a planning assumption of �300m a year from 2011-12 to 2013-14 to be confirmed at the next Spending Review. This provides a provisional �1.2 billion in total to 2013-14 which should allow us to develop around �750 million of new schemes.
However, not all projects can be funded and in line with Sir Andrew Foster's recommendations the LSC has consulted on the best approach to prioritise schemes. A reference panel of college principals has been established to consider next steps and met on April 29. We expect to announce which projects will be taken forward during this spending review period at the beginning of the summer. All future projects beyond the current spending review period will also be subject to the same objective criteria for prioritisation. We expect to be able to announce the outcome of the exercise in the spring of next year.
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In your letter and in the attached article, you detail a range of reasons for which the proposed project at the College of West Anglia is important. I understand the significance of these factors, just as I know that many colleges will feel that their project has numerous merits also. Let me assure you that, in establishing a set of objective prioritisation criteria, the LSC and the sector will take into account all relevant factors and contexts.
SION SIMON MP
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Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Further Education