Letter: Counting the value of further education

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The Independent Online
Sir: I look forward to reading the Audit Commission's report Unfinished Business, as I cannot believe that it has missed as many points as the media coverage of its publication suggests. Nowhere have I seen or heard reference to the fact that students in the 16-19 age band often drop out of full-time courses because they have succeeded in getting a job, even without the qualification for which they had been studying, but where the benefits of that study proved significant in getting the job.

Given the present employment market, who can blame a young person for taking a job opportunity when it comes, especially when study is often continued on a part-time basis? I shall look with interest to see whether or not the Audit Commission has identified this not inconsiderable group of people whom I would claim as successes for the further education system, not failures.

And if the Department for Education is blaming colleges for over-recruiting for the sake of financial advantage, we need only ask who invented 'input-related' funding. It certainly was not the colleges. The risk now is that the funding council will move to an 'output-related' system that will prove just as inappropriate, unless more sensitive ways of interpreting success and failure are devised.

Yours faithfully,

DAVID HOWARD

Associate Dean

North East Surrey College

of Technology

Epsom, Surrey

11 February

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