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Scottish Further Education Funding Council Briefing No 55




Scottish Further Education Funding Council
Briefing No 55


This briefing paper provides an overview of the role of the Scottish Further Education Funding Council. This Council seeks to develop further education, by funding learning opportunities that enable students to achieve personal, social and economic goals, and by providing support for the further education sector.

Further Education in Scotland

There are 46 Further Education colleges in Scotland who receive their funding via the Scottish Further Education Funding Council (SFEFC). In 2002 there were over 480,000 student enrolments, of which:

  • 47% are female,
  • 59% are aged 25 or over,
  • 67% of students had no previous qualifications,
  • 88% are on vocational courses,
  • 82% are on part time courses, and
  • 80% who complete a course gain employment or progress to more advanced education.

Further education colleges employ over 12,000 full time equivalent staff, 54% of who are involved in teaching. Over 90% of the population of Scotland live within 30 minutes of a further education college.

Scottish Further Education Funding Council

The Council is responsible for funding further education in Scotland. It is empowered by the Further and Higher Education (Scotland) Act 1992 to do all that is necessary or expedient to secure adequate and efficient provision of further education in Scotland, to the extent that it can within its powers delegated by the Scottish Ministers. Its functions include:

  • funding further education colleges to enable them to deliver Ministerial policies,
  • monitoring the quality of provision and the financial health of the sector,
  • offering guidance to colleges on good practice and stimulating innovation, and
  • advising the Scottish Ministers on the needs of further education.

The Scottish Further Education Funding Council operates within an overarching policy framework that is set by ministers.

Widening access and participation continue to be high on the ministerial agenda - including those from under-represented or disadvantaged groups.

The 13 members of the Council are responsible for setting the overall strategy and making decisions about how to allocate the funds available for the 46 colleges funded by SFEFC. A Chief Executive and staff of around 100, shared with its sister body - the Scottish Higher Education Funding Council, support the Council.


As well as seeking to respond to Scottish Executive policies the SFEFC also seeks to provide advice on the needs and potential development of the Further Education sector.

Its policies are developed in partnership with colleges, and other key partners, recognising that its goals will only be achieved through those at the front line delivering a quality further education service.

SFEFC also seeks to secure adequate, efficient and publicly accountable further education while acknowledging colleges' responsibility to manage their affairs to best serve their communities.

FE College Strategic and Operational Planing

Each year colleges are required to produce rolling strategic and one year operational plans. These plans are used to inform the SFEFC of the national trends in provision and the more local issues being addressed by the institutions.

The plans form a clear basis for discussion with individual and groups of colleges as the SFEFC considers issues associated with adequacy and efficiency of provision.

Financial Advice

The SFEFC also has a Financial Appraisal and Monitoring Service (FAMS) which is responsible for providing a comprehensive range of services to SFEFC with regard to monitoring the financial health of FE colleges throughout Scotland. The monitoring function includes the following:

  • Analysis of financial forecasts, mid year financial information and annual financial statements;
  • Assessments of institutions financial control and audit arrangements;
  • Participating in UK wide value for money studies and other such projects aimed at developing and improving financial management in the sector;
  • Developing and disseminating good practice guidance in relation to governance and management.

Strategic Development

Scotland's Further Education Colleges operate in a wide variety of different environments, some of which have very specific local economic and social needs.

At a national level, colleges are also encouraged to be responsive to the Scottish Parliament's key strategic priorities for the further education sector in Scotland. The SFEFC has a central role to play in supporting colleges to plan and act strategically, to face the challenge

of meeting changing local, regional and national priorities. The SFEFC assists colleges to identify strategic aims, to plan effectively for their delivery and to monitor their achievements.

To support this process the SFEFC has set aside funds of at least £3million per year, through the Strategic Development Fund, to encourage long-term strategic developments that address identified needs across the sector.

Action for Branches

This briefing is primarily for information purposes on the role and responsibilities of the SFEFC. Branches should:

  • Be aware of the SFEFC and its contribution to the development of the FE sector.

Further Information

Scottish Further Education Funding Council www.sfefc.ac.uk

Scottish Further Education Unit www.sfeu.ac.uk


Contacts list:

Dave Watson - d.watson@unison.co.uk

@ The P&I Team
14 West Campbell St
Glasgow G26RX
Tel 0845 355 0845
Fax 0141-307 2572

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Further Information

Scottish Further Education Funding Council www.sfefc.ac.uk

Scottish Further Education Unit www.sfeu.ac.uk

Contacts list:

Dave Watson -

@ The P&I Team
14 West Campbell St
Glasgow G26RX
Tel 0845 355 0845
Fax 0141-307 2572