The report of Sir Andrew Foster’s independent review of the capital programme in FE, has been published today.
Extracts from the press release:
Sir Andrew Foster said: “I have tried to give a full, honest and open account of what has happened, because it is in all our interests to understand and learn. I have met with many representatives of the college sector and the governmental and other national bodies involved with the programme, and I am grateful for the time people have given to this.”
He concluded: “The responsibility of DIUS was to determine and monitor the implementation of broad policy. Effective implementation was the role of the LSC. There were warnings of overheating as early as February 2008, but there was delay and confusion in addressing them.
“Then, towards the end of the year, the extent of the problem was finally recognised and the moratorium put in place. There were further failures in the way this was communicated to the sector. At the heart of the problem is the absence of a proper long term financial strategy and inadequate management, information and monitoring.
“I have been forced to conclude that the crisis was predictable and probably avoidable. Certainly, it could have been mitigated if action had been taken earlier. The final confusion in communication made a bad situation worse.
“I recommend a package of measures to ensure speedy recovery in confidence and project policy for the future of the capital programme. This is focussed on a needs-based rather than demand-led approach. It involves improved engagement and consultation between DIUS, the LSC and the college sector. Planning and mapping of potential needs must be enhanced, with more realistic assessments put in place.
“Talks should be held with HM Treasury to reinforce the importance of skills development in the context of national economic recovery, and global competitiveness, and to review resourcing for the continuing capital programme. It is essential that a robust recovery plan is demonstrated. Future development must take place in the context of a comprehensive and competent financial strategy that supports needs-related planning.”