Colleges have lost millions of pounds because of “catastrophic mismanagement” by the government agency responsible for funding them, a damning report warns today.
Those affected by the funding crisis include Sutton Coldfield College, which was promised cash for a £42million campus on a former dairy site in Perry Barr – only to have the funding withdrawn.
A report by MPs concludes that Learning & Skills Council officials encouraged colleges to plan expensive building programmes, even though the money to pay for them didn’t exist.
But the Government was also to blame, after it failed to provide any oversight of the ambitious college-building programme.
The findings were published by the Commons Innovations, Universities, Science and Skills Committee, which has completed an inquiry into the funding fiasco which affected 79 colleges across the country.
The LSC, the government body which allocates money, had promised colleges cash to pay for ambitious expansion or rebuilding schemes.
But it suddenly put the projects on hold in January. The agency had approved 79 projects requiring grants of £2.7 billion, when it only had £500 million to offer.
Eventually, just 13 schemes were allowed to go ahead, including Bournville College’s planned move to the former MG Rover plant in Longbridge and Sandwell College’s relocation to a new £85 million centre in West Bromwich.
But the remaining colleges have already spent £250 million on schemes which have now been delayed indefinitely.
The MPs said: “We conclude that there was a catastrophic mismanagement of the Learning and Skills Council capital budget during 2008.”