§ Mr. Mahmood:
To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what assessment he has made of the effect of the proposals contained in the White Paper, "The Future of Higher Education", on further education colleges which provide higher education courses; and if he will make a statement. 
§ Alan Johnson:
The Higher Education Funding Council for England has recently run a bidding round for additional student numbers for foundation degrees. Further education colleges (FEC) have been invited to bid for those places in collaboration with higher education institutions, Sector Skills Councils and Regional Development Agencies. An announcement on the outcomes of this bidding round will be made early next year.
I have asked the Chief Executives of the Higher Education Funding Council and the Learning and Skills Councils to work together to reduce the bureaucracy faced by further education colleges that provide courses of higher education. I expect them to produce a consultation paper by early 2004.
The Quality Assurance Agency, Ofsted, and the Adult Learning Inspectorate have recently piloted a parallel review and inspection of a FEC, which should reduce burden and bureaucracy for the FEC. The agencies are currently evaluating the success of this pilot and will provide a report to me early in the New Year.665W
White Paper Commitment
Foundation degrees will often be delivered in further education colleges and we will build and strengthen the links between further and higher education, to give students clearer progression pathways and support the development of work-based degrees. As part of this, we will streamline the funding regimes to make collaboration easier.