Colleges to bid for data rooms

A Pounds 20 million Millennium Fund proposal for further education colleges envisages their becoming information centres for use by the whole community.

The bid for cash by the Further Education Funding Council would create a Millennium Room at a key college in every main town in England. The room would contain computers connected to public and college databases, including the Internet.

Use of the Millennium Room would be free for members of the public, with supervision and running costs paid by the college.

The user would only be charged for accessing commercial networks where extra costs were incurred.

The bid was unveiled at the annual meeting of the Association of Principals of Colleges.

Sir William Stubbs, the FEFC's chief executive, told the meeting: "I hope you would see this in sympathy with what you are trying to do. It is encouraging the public to look to you as being in the forefront of education and training and information relating to that."

Sir William said the project was attracting serious interest from the Millennium Commission and the FEFC had made two presentations to it. Now he wants to hear from colleges prepared to host a Millennium Room.

* Sir William has said colleges have bid for Pounds 466 million extra cash for 1995/96 when only Pounds 376 million is available. One college will receive Pounds 20 million less than it asked for.

The Further Education Funding Council was due to agree college's final allocations for 1995/96 yesterday. They will be published in full in next week's THES.

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