Sunday, June 14, 1998 Published at 12:57 GMT 13:57 UK
Opening doors to Scottish colleges
Authorities are concerned that some people feel alienated from learning
There is to be an "open door" policy to encourage people to go into further education in Scotland, as part of the government's drive to get everyone involved in "lifelong learning."
The Scottish Office has set up a £1m fund - the Widening Access Fund - for further education colleges and is allocating £700,000 to promote collaboration between colleges.
Speaking at the Annual Conference of the Association of Scottish Colleges, the Scottish Education Minister, Brian Wilson, said: "The further education sector ... already has an impressive record of providing a wide range of educational opportunities, both for school leavers and adult learners, at both basic and advanced level.
"We want to build on that record and are committed to the FE sector not as a gap provider but as a major player in its own right, with a distinctive role, doing what it does best.
Examining what is on offer
"We shall publish a strategic framework for further education later this summer. It will focus on the two themes of 'access' and 'collaboration'."
Learning opportunities in suburban and small rural communities are to be re-examined, in an effort to find out what deters people from taking them up. The actual courses on offer will also come under scrutiny.
"Our goal is that there should be no street, or scheme or village in Scotland where people think that further education is not available or appropriate to them," Mr Wilson said.
"We want to widen access to include groups of people who are presently under-represented by reason for instance of age or social or economic background."
The government regards the further education sector as an important factor in having a skilled, competitive workforce as the UK goes into the next century.