A survey conducted by Capita Further and Higher Education has revealed that almost all of the colleges questioned will continue to focus on maintaining or improving the quality of provision to learners, despite the current straightened economic situation. However, the funding reductions have left more than 60% of colleges concerned that they run the risk of becoming financially unviable in the foreseeable future.
Rob Elliott, UK products manager, Capita Further and Higher Education, comments: “Further education colleges are currently faced with a precarious balancing act. On one hand, they are perfectly placed to ensure that the up-coming generation are equipped with the skills needed to breathe life back into the UK’s economy. On the other hand, in line with all public sector organisations, colleges are being asked to do this with less funding so must find efficiency savings. The consequences for not finding a balance could be extreme; as well as the potential financial distress, the government is proposing to address underperformance quickly and could remove public funding entirely from inadequate providers.”
The survey, completed at a conference hosted by Capita FHE, had 91 responses and was undertaken to gain an insight into how colleges are coping with these difficult challenges.
The responses revealed:
- 97% of colleges are focused on, at a minimum, maintaining the quality of their provision despite the cuts, with 74% concentrating on improving quality.
- 59% believe it is a realistic goal to improve the quality of provision in the face of significant cuts.
- 49% will increase the level of apprenticeship places to fall in line with current government focus.
- The top three areas colleges will look at for efficiency savings are
o staff utilization (85%)
o better use of technology (71%)
o a halt on non-essential recruitment (60%).
- 27% of colleges indicated they would look at shared services to make efficiency savings.
- 93% find management information systems useful to pinpoint areas of inefficiency.
Rob continues: “Despite the turbulence in the sector, there have been some encouraging signs - especially in areas like apprenticeships where the government want growth. Many colleges were pleasantly surprised by higher than expected funding allocations for 2011-2012, and participation is increasing. We might, therefore, not be seeing the feared ‘more for less’ but colleges still face delivering a lot more for about the same.
“Using technology to keep colleges in good financial shape is critical, as it allows quick analysis of how efficiently resources are being used. For the proactive majority, this time of change and challenge could still have a positive outcome. Colleges have a strong track record of confronting challenges head on, keeping excellent learner outcomes at the heart of everything they do. The survey results demonstrate that once again they are prepared to do this.”
Adele Hawkes, Catherine Lane PR, 2nd Floor, 145-157 St John Street, London, EC1V 4PY. Tel: 0771 289 0291 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
About Capita FHE:
Capita Further and Higher Education (FHE) is an established supplier of management systems to both the public and private, further and higher education sectors. It provides a range of integrated software and services delivered by highly qualified and experienced professionals to help reduce administration and increase efficiency for its customers.
Capita’s unique understanding of the sector empowers customers to maximise funding, minimise administrative burdens, optimise business processes and simplify the management of Management Information Systems (MIS).
As a division of Capita Plc, the company has experienced strong and consistent growth since its inception in 1999. Its products are used by more than 180 educational establishments across the UK. Capita FHE is also a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner.
Further information regarding Capita FHE can be found at: www.capita-fhe.co.uk