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NAO urges colleges to tackle £180m red tape challenge

16 December 2011

The need to reduce bureaucracy in further education has been highlighted in a recent National Audit Office (NAO). The NAO estimates colleges spend around £180m annually on administering funding, qualification and assurance systems.

However the report has come under fire from the Skills Funding Agency for failing to “distinguish between administrative requirements essential for good stewardship of public money and those that may be unnecessary.

The Government recognises the need to reduce red tape. Earlier in the year it launched three consultation papers seeking views on how best to simplify the system, but with no specific plan on how to get there.

This issue is high on the agenda, particularly in light of the financial concerns of some colleges. However, until we know the true cost of administrative burdens, the 25% reduction in costs suggested by the NAO is purely speculative. We will await the outcome of the Government’s fast track investigation.

Whatever the outcome, the quality of college courses should not diminish.

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