Select Committee on Education and Skills Minutes of Evidence


Further memorandum from the Association of Colleges (ILA 25)

CLOSURE OF INDIVIDUAL LEARNING ACCOUNTS

  1.  AoC conducted a quick postal survey of member colleges on 30 November to ascertain the effects of the early closure on colleges.

  2.  105 colleges had submitted returns by 22 January. Almost all were able to give figures for the number of ILA account holders for whom learning had been booked in the current academic year: the total was 48,186.

  3.  75 colleges reported that they had been unable to book learning for ILA account holders because of the early closure of the ILA programme. Not all were able to give figures for the numbers involved, but the total for those who were able to quantify was 7,724.

  4.  19 colleges reported that they would suffer losses amounting to £144,845 from investment which had been made in anticipation of ILA holders becoming enrolled.

  5.  84 colleges reported that they expected to suffer a loss of income amounting in total to £1,225,111 as a result of the early closure of the ILA programme. Colleges generally expect to have to meet this loss of income in order to honour commitments to students.

  6.  Colleges cited an extensive range of courses on which ILA account holders had enrolled. Although computing and information technology (including ECDL, IBT, CLAIT, internet technology, CAD) figured prominently many others were mentioned including administration, word processing, horticulture, garden design, floristry, languages, photography, building crafts, engineering, electrical installation, mathematics, open college network programmes, hairdressing, beauty, body massage, health studies, early years, management, teacher training, counselling.

  7.  Additional issues which had arisen for colleges as a result of the early closure included:

    —  Dealing with considerable numbers of complaints from disenchanted students who were unaware of closure, or who have lost an entitlement to public support as a result of the closure or of fraud.

    —  "Increased administrative burden involved in sorting out problems.

    —  Adverse publicity for providers as well as for the ILA programme and Government; and

    —  Loss of confidence in the campaign to promote lifelong learning.

    —  Resolving the problems of how to deal with students for whom ILA support was expected but has now been lost.

    —  Much administrative time and effort wasted in dealing with the ILA Centre, especially in trying to overcome the severe delays involved in accessing the ILA website prior to the closure, in inefficiencies in dealing with applications, and in poor communication with colleges and account holders.

    —  Uncertainties over the nature and timing of any replacement programme.

    —  Some courses may be at risk in the coming weeks because ILA account holders who will now have to met tuition fees in full themselves will not enrol.

    —  Achievement of college targets may be adversely affected.

    —  Delays in receiving payments due in respect of valid ILA bookings.

  8.  AoC will be taking these issues up with Ministers in an effort to seek a resolution of the problems which have been created, and to ensure that in any re-launch of the programme the weaknesses of the original design (such as the lack of adequate mechanisms for ensuring quality assurance, probity and value for public money, and the unnecessary complications of the administrative system) are eliminated.

Association of Colleges

February 2002


 
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