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A dissertation submitted by Andrew W. Panton, M.A, Dip.Ed., Dip.Ed.Mgt., to the University of London Institute of Education in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in the Organisation and Management of Education in September 1980.

At this time the author was Assistant Education Officer for Secondary Schools at Ealing London Borough Council. From 1977 to 1979 he had been Professional Assistant in the Further Education Division of the same LEA. Because of his previous links with FE college principals, the author was able to boost the linked courses provided by the colleges to the middle band pupils of 14-16 and non-A Level sixth form students by the simple device of disaggregating into FE lecturer hours four to five secondary curriculum support posts which were at his disposal. This not only allowed colleges to continue to offer part-time linked courses to secondary school pupils - these FE links with schools, previously financed through surplus resources in the colleges, were by then at severe risk because of financial constraints - but facilitated the employment on them of more experienced senior and full-time lecturers, thus improving the quality of the provision.

Although he had never taught in a further education institution himself, the author became so interested in the circumstances of this sector during his time as Professional Assistant (FE) that he decided to devote his MA dissertation to the arrangements made for teaching in FE colleges and the ways in which lecturers were utilised in these institutions. 
1.  The Powers and Responsibilities of Central Government.
2.  The Partnership between Central and Local Government.
3.  The Financing of Further Education.
4.  The Position of Colleges. 
5.  Course Approval and validation.
6.  The Pooling of the Costs of Advanced Further Education.
7.  Teachers in Further Education.
1.  Theoretical Considerations
a.  Resources as inputs
b.  The costing of resources.
c.  Supply and demand
d.  Economies of scale
e.  Class size considerations
f.  The place for objectives.
2.  Factors associated with the Allocation of Teaching Resources
a.  The grading of teaching posts
b.  Conditions of service
c.  Student hours
d.  Contact hours
e.  Class size
f.  Full-time equivalent staff
g.  Full-time eqivalent students
h.  Student/staff ratios
3.  Methods of Allocating Academic Staffing Establishments in Further Education
a.  Staff grade/contact hour system
b.  Staff grade/student hour system
c.  Student/staff ratios
d.  Class size ratio 
1.  Academic Staffing Formulae
2.  Further Thoughts on Teaching Commitment Schemes of Allocation
3.  Pooling Committee Memorandum on Student/Staff Ratios 
4.  Cost Efficiency Indicators in Further Education Staffing
5.  Assessment of the Pooling Committee's Work

This dissertation sets out to consider some of the many issues involved in the resourcing of education in the public sector, and looks in particular at the questions which are relevant to the allocation and utilisation of academic or teaching staff, the salaries of which form between 50 and 60% of the budget of most colleges of further education. The first part considers the pattern of power and authority in the field of further education and demonstrates how responsibilities are widely diffused between central and local governments, colleges, and validating bodies. Also considered are the complex arrangements for the pooling of costs of advanced further education amongst all local education authorities. 
The second part considers the allocation of teaching resources by local education authorities to colleges of further education. After consideration of some general aspects of the resource process, a number of factors integral to the allocation of teaching staff are examined. The requirements of the Burnham Further Education Salaries Document are discussed and the difficulties of calculating full-time equivalents, both staff and students, are explained in some detail. Four methods of assessing teaching staff establishments of colleges are then set out with critical observations.
The third part of the dissertation concentrates upon the utilisation and monitoring of these resources within the colleges themselves. The question of whether internal staff allocations should be determined on the basis of student load or teaching commitment is considered in depth. The influence of the Pooling Committee on the allocation and utilisation of staff is discussed in this part, and the criticisms of its exclusively quantitative approach are described. 
While a number of provisional conclusions are listed by the author in a brief conclusion, the main purpose of this dissertation is to delineate the complexities involved in resourcing this most diverse sector of the education service and to demonstrate the difficulties of applying simple administrative solutions to this process.   
                                                                      PART  A.       
The provision of further education in England and Wales is governed by legislation on both education and local government as a whole. Only two education acts, the Education Act 1944 and the Education (No. 2) Act 1968, have considerable relevance to further education. The bulk of legal requirements is laid down by Central Government in the form of Statutory Instruments, authorised by general acts. By means of such of these as the 'Further Education Regulations 1975 (SI No. 1054)' and regulations on student grants and teachers' salary scales, the Department of Education and Science (DES) can to a marked degree guide the development of the further education service.

Apart from legislation, the DES provides advice and guidance to local education authorities (LEAs) by means of circulars and administrative memoranda. Of these the latter are most numerous, being usually concerned with routine matters or statements of procedures. Circulars, the other of these non-legislative means of formal communication between the DES and local education authorities, are somewhat ambivalent. They may make recommendations, ask for information and invite discussion, but they do in fact carry the full weight of the DES and, in general, local education authorities are expected to follow the guidelines laid down in them. Additional advice to LEAs and colleges of further education may be sent in the form of circular letters. Indeed changes of policy are often heralded by this means, e.g. ACL 1/78 on ordinary residence qualifications for FE awards, and FECL 1/80 on course approvals.


The relationship between central and local government is traditionally described as a 'partnership'. To use a familiar cliche, education is said to be 'a national service, locally administered'. However, this is in fact a considerable over-simplification. Although national policy on education is determined by the Secretary of State for Education and Science, normally following thorough consultation, the implementation of such policy generally concedes to local education authorities a sufficient area of discretion to enable them to develop local policies which raise them above the status of mere administrative agents of central government. The Education Act 1944, by establishing the Secretary of State and the local education authorities in their present roles, largely prescribes the the terms of this relationship between central and local government. The Act gave the Secretary of State the duty 'to secure the effective execution by local education authorities under his control and direction, of a national policy for providing a varied and comprehensive educational service in every area'. While this implies a strong element of central responsibility, the powers of the Secretary of State are in fact limited to those laid down in the Act.

With regard to further education, the duties and responsibilities are set out in Section 41 and the 1944 Act:

'Subject as hereinafter provided, it shall be the duty of every local education authority to secure the provision for their area of adequate facilities for further education'.

Further education is then defined as follows:

'(a)  full-time and part-time education for persons over compulsory school age; and

 (b)  leisure-time occupation in such organised cultural training and recreative activities as are suited to their requirements, for any persons over compulsory school age who are able and willing to profit by the facilities provided for that purpose'.

Sections 41 and 42 also provide that local education authorities should prepare schemes of further education for the approval of the Secretary of State. In practice this has turned out to be a 'once-and-for-all' requirement as the Secretary of State has not thought it necessary to seek updatings of such schemes.

Thus the local education authorities are expected to manage their own affairs within the prescribed area of powers and responsibilities, although the Secretary of State has, in extremis, the rights to intervene under Sections 68 and 99 of the 1944 Act.

The terms of the partnership between central and local government may be illustrated by two examples of a strong use of the Secretary of State's powers. The Education (No. 2) Act 1968 gave effect to the Weaver Committee's recommendations on the liberalising of college government. For colleges of education the Act was quickly enforced as local education authorities accepted for these colleges the guidelines laid down by the Secretary of State for the instrument and articles of government. However, the DES' proposals in respect of colleges of further education were not acceptable to local education authorities, and it was nearly two years, after discussions between the Department and LEAs, before guidance on the implementation of the 1968 (No. 2) Act was issued in Circular 7/70. The first new articles of government were not approved until 1971, and in 1975 there were still some authorities which had not implemented the requirements of the Act.

Another example of the working of the partnership between central and local government is the recent reduction in the number of teacher training places. In 1972 a Government white paper, following the 1972 James Report on 'Teacher Education and Training', proposed amalgamations and asked that consultations begin locally. While these consultations and negotiations were taking place, the statistics of a falling birthrate combined with a declining economic situation persuaded the Secretary of State to make further cuts in the programmed number of teacher training places. Consequently in 1977 the Secretary of State announced that, instead of the 75,000-85,000 places projected as a target in the 1972 White Paper, the target would be only 45,000. As a result, the DES required that the number and pace of amalgamations be stepped up. The reduction in the number of student places and the number of amalgamations that then occurred were probably greater and effected more speedily than if local initiative had been the prime determinant of action, but even by 1978 plans for many colleges had yet to be agreed due to the power of local authorities to shape events.


Of all central government controls over the direction of further education in England and Wales, the most powerful is its finance of the education system.

The 1944 Act provided for grants from central government to local authorities to support the education service, but the present procedure was determined by the Local Government Act 1966. This act introduced the Rate Support Grant (RSG), which is a method of supporting local government expenditure financed through revenue raised by local rates. The local authority associations negotiate with the Department of the Environment concerning the amount of 'agreed relevant expenditure' for the coming financial year, and the total support which central government will find. (In 1980-81 this amounts to 61%.) In respect of further education, agreed relevant expenditure will include the number of places for non-advanced further education and for discretionary awards. Arrangements for advanced further education are agreed separately from the RSG negotiations and will be considered below. The unusual aspect of this system of central government support of local government expenditure is that, while the total expenditure negotiated is based upon components for the different services and for different items within such services, it is not tied to these components when the RSG comes through. Thus, while in the past Secretaries of State for Education have been able to claim that they have secured sums in RSG to meet special purposes, they have no power to ensure that the money is even spent on education, let alone the particular area designated by the DES. A good example of this frustration for central government is the vain attempts of the recent Labour Government (1974-79) to encourage an increase in provision for the in-service training of teachers, including further education lecturers.

Building for further education has to be approved by the DES under the 'Further Education Regulations, 1975'. LEAs submit lists of building projects with their justifications, and the DES selects, in the light of national and local needs, certain of these projects, for which it then gives approval, under the 1933 Local Government Act, for LEAs to raise capital loans either through the Public Works Loans Board or on the private market.

In addition to revenue received in respect of the rate fund account and capital loans raised for building purposes, the further education service benefits from various additional sources of income. Tuition fees for courses of further education are one such source. The DES makes recommendations about levels of fees for particular categories of students and types of courses, and each year these recommendations for full-time courses are embodied in official circulars from the Department, following consultations with the local authority associations. In general, LEAs follow these guidelines, although for some years authorities in the London and Home Counties area have charged fees above the level recommended nationally. With regard to authorities providing further education to students resident in other authorities, the Education (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1953, as amended, provides for 'recoupment' of tuition fees under arrangements approved annually by the Inter-Authority Payments Committee. Some authorities make 'free trade' agreements with their neighbours for, mainly, part-time courses, although the London Government Act 1963 makes free trade for all further education courses mandatory among London authorities. Further income is provided from courses organised under the auspices of the Industrial Training Boards and the Manpower Services Commisssion (MSC), and 'full-cost' courses provided for particular clients on a 'short full-time' basis. 

With regard to the MSC, courses provided under the Training Opportunities and Youth Opportunities Programmes have grown so substantially in comparison with traditionally funded courses of non-advanced further education that both the DES and LEAs have become somewhat alarmed. LEAs have felt, with some justification, that central government grants which might otherwise have been available under RSG have been diverted to support the MSC. That this is so no doubt reflects the fear of central government that at a time of economic retrenchment LEAs, if left to their own devices, would not take sufficiently speedy action to provide suitable course for the unemployed.

A final, though often forgotten source of revenue and custom for colleges of further education is the provision of mandatory awards approved annually under the 'Local Education Authority Awards Regulations'. Mandatory Awards are made for students undertaking degree or degree equivalent courses approved as such by the DES. Such awards comprise course tuition fees and means-tested maintenance grants for students, and the DES reimburses LEAs for 90% of expenditure on such awards. Grants for non-designated advanced courses and for non-advanced courses are made at the discretion of LEAs. It is no secret that levels of discretionary grants have declined greatly in recent years due to financial constraints, with many  LEAs now making no provision of this nature at all. This situation increases the disparity between support given to students on designated and non-designated courses, and indicates clearly the way in which demand for further education can be stimulated or depressed by grant arrangements. In addition, the provision of mandatory awards for degree and equivalent courses has exacerbated the tendency, already present for other reasons, for colleges of further education to increase provision for advanced courses at the expense of courses at a lower level.


Just as patterns of responsibility are diffused between central and local government, so at local level duties are divided between maintaining LEAs and the college authorities themselves.

The extent to which college expenditure is independent of the local authority varies from one authority to another. In general, a college's level of freedom is positively related to the amount of advanced work it undertakes, this being particularly so in the case of polytechnics. The extent of such independence is determined particularly by the powers of its governing body, approved under the criteria of Circular 7/70, and partly by the spending power remitted to the governing body by the maintaining LEA. Circular 7/70 recommended that governors should have the freedom to spend under certain budgetary headings and to be able to exercise 'virement' within these. While the 'virement' granted by LEAs is usually limited to items within headings (i.e. teaching staff, ancillary staff, staff training, educational equipment), some articles of government allow 'virement' across such headings. Finally, however, it is the LEA that has ultimate responsibility for the finances of a college, and all the financial procedures of a college as well as its annual budgets must be approved by it.

Another area of importance in which the relative powers of LEAs and colleges are involved is the question of academic responsibility. In general, articles of government charge LEAs with the duty to decide the general educational character of a college, a power which it may exercise at committee level through control at new courses. The academic responsibilities of a local education authority are also defined by its duty under the 1944 Act 'to secure the provision for their area of adequate facilities for further education'. 'Adequate facilities' must include provision of appropriate courses as well as premises and equipment. While local education authorities, therefore, bear a responsibility for the courses of colleges. Under Circular 7/70, academic responsibility is divided between the governors, the principal, and the academic board, the chairman of which is the college principal.

By way of summary, it should be emphasised that a college is in all its aspects a responsibility of the LEA. When considering the extent of autonomy it will allow a college, a LEA will remember that it has responsibility for the financial  procedures and the premises of a college, and that it is the employer of all staff, both teaching and ancillary. However, some of the LEA's functions can be delegated to a college and its governors, and, following Circular 7/70, articles of government for colleges allow freedom to spend within certain limits and to direct the academic progress of the college.


Each local education authority is empowered to approve courses of non-advanced further education further education in its colleges, although under Regulation 7 of the 'Further Education Regulations, 1975', it is expected to avoid duplication of courses provided by neighbouring authorities. Under Regulation 8 of the same regulations the provision of all advanced courses proposed by LEAs is subject to the approval of the Secretary of State, who is advised in this area by the Regional Staff Inspector (RSI) of HM Inspectorate.

With regard to course approval, an important role is played by the nine Regional Advisory Councils for further education (RACs) established in 1946. While their statutory powers are very limited, the influence of these bodies is considerable. They have advisory bodies on non-advanced further education and ensure that the requirement of Regulation 7, described above, is met. They also consider all applications to start new advanced courses and make recommendations upon them prior to passing them to the RSI. Indeed under Circular 10/76 the Secretary of State delegated to RACs some of his course approvals power, e.g. in respect of all part-time courses of advanced further education below degree level. In making their decisions or recommendations on course approval, the Secretary of State, the RSIs, the RACs and the LEAs, will take account of, inter alia, estimated student numbers, the extent of neighbouring provision, the national and local demand for the course and the availability of resources.

Once a course has been approved, as required, it still has to be validated by the appropriate examining body. Degree courses in polytechnics and colleges of further education are validated by the Council for National Academic Awards (CNAA), which received its charter in 1964. While the CNAA grew out of the former National Council for Technological Awards, which was concerned primarily with technical and commercial subjects, it now validates a a variety of arts degrees including B.Ed degrees. The previous decade has seen a growth of CNAA degrees and postgraduate certificates in Education in preference to the university validated courses, more common in the former colleges of education. Advanced and non-advanced courses in the fields of technical and commercial education are validated by the Technician and Business Education Councils (TEC and BEC) established in 1974 to replace the Joint Committees of the DES and professional bodies for the national diploma and certificate schemes. Other qualifications at the craft and commercial skills levels are validated by the City and Guilds of London Institute, the Royal Society of Arts, the London Chamber of Commerce and the six regional examining bodies attached to the RACs. The recently established MSC has also played a notable part in the design and approval of courses which it finances in colleges of further education.

While responsibility for designing, approving and validating courses of further education is widely diffused, the decisions taken and the standards set by these bodies have very considerable consequences for the resources required in colleges. For instance, the CNAA, before approving a course proposal, will inspect the facilities of the college and vet the qualifications of the relevant staff, as well as considering the academic content and structure of the course. Local authorities and colleges wishing to provide a particular course have to satisfy the standards of the appropriate validating body.


Advanced further education (AFE) has special financial arrangements outside the normal RSG and inter-authority recoupment procedures. In 1959 an Advanced Further Education Pool was set up by regulations to spread, as equitably as possible, the cost of AFE among providing LEAs and those providing little or no AFE. In 1968 a Pooling Committee was established 'to consider and keep under review the arrangements for pooling educational expenditure with particular reference to teacher training and advanced further education'. This committee is an advisory body only and, although serviced by the DES, is composed of finance officers representing the local authority associations. In 1974 the Advanced Further Education Pool was amalgamated with the Teacher Training Pool to form the TT and AFE Pool.

The financial arrangements of the Pool very briefly work as follows. At the end of each financial year the proportion of the total running costs of a college attributable to poolable AFE work is separately calculated. The amount to be recouped  by each college is calculated by the following formula:

Teaching hours in respect of AFE work / Teaching hours of all work x Total net running costs of the college.

When all AFE recoupment claims have been received the DES calculates the size of the Pool, to which each LEA is then required to contribute. Since 1974-75 contributions are charged pro-rata with 69% based on school population and 31% based on non-domestic rateable value, these figures deriving from an attempt to make each LEA's contribution to the combined Pool match as closely as possible to its aggregate share of the two previous pools. Once an authority's overall net contribution to or receipt from the Pool has been determined, the RSG is adjusted accordingly.
Many criticisms of the AFE pooling mechanism have been made. These are listed in an article by Lewis and Allemano (1972) (See Reference 1), the most thorough existing study of the Pool and its consequences. The major complaint, one common to all pooling schemes, is that it divides the burden of cost and accountability. Not only, it is alleged, does this encourage a lack of cost effectiveness, but it may reduce the determination of a LEA to assess the quality of the service provided. Local authorities without AFE have been inclined to think that they have been committed to extravagant expenditure by authorities with colleges undertaking such work, whereas the latter feel that the amount of administrative resources which they devote to running AFE institutions, and for which no claim from the Pool is possible, is an unfair burden. Lewis and Allemano's study concluded that the providing authorities did have cause for a genuine grievance, but Pratt et al. in a more recent work in 1978 (See Reference 2) find that their analysis does not justify this conclusion. Pratt et al. believe that no clear patterns emerge from information so far available and conclude that 'there are disparities in the system of recoupment, some authorities do well, others badly out of the Pool; further investigation of this aspect would be worthwhile'. Pratt et al. do however suggest that one reason for the confusion over the consequences of AFE pooling is that the use of teaching staff hours as a proxy for recoupment provides an unreliable basis. They question the assumption that costs divide themselves in the ratio of staff time on advanced courses to total staff time. In fact because of the sophisticated equipment often required on AFE courses and the higher salaries which the Burnham salary system requires it is likely that the costs of teaching on advanced courses will be underestimated in relation to non-advanced work. Indeed it may well be that it is the extent to which the recoupment formula based on teaching staff hours does present a fair division of costs that determines whether a providing authority gains or loses from the pooling arrangements in force.

While it remains unclear who, if anyone, have been the beneficiaries of the AFE Pool, there has been a general concern at both national and local level that the 'open-ended' nature of the expenditure to which it has committed LEAs has had an inflationary effect. The previous government set up the Oakes Committee to advise on the 'Management of Higher Education in the Maintained Sector'. The Oakes Report (1978) recommended the setting up of a National Body to determine necessary AFE provision and to plan future developments. With regard to recoupment it proposed that a proportion eventually reaching 15% of total costs should be met by providing LEAs and the balance should be pooled as at present. It also suggested differential funding arrangements for AFE according to institutions: programme finance for polytechnics and other colleges with over 90% advanced work and 'per capita' finance for others. The Oakes recommendations have not been taken up. One obvious shortcoming of the Report is its virtual disregard of the problem of accountability. While providing LEAs would have been expected to pay for their involvement in AFE, their powers would have been reduced and passed to a National Body, the members of which would have no financial stake in the system nor be accountable to the electorate for the service provided. Other difficulties are the complexity of the financial arrangements suggested and the additional layer of bureaucracy which the creation of a National Body would have entailed. at steps were being taken to restrict 

While the Oakes Report has not found favour, the present government in line with its general policy of constraining public expenditure has taken steps to end the 'open-ended' commitment of the AFE Pool arrangements. In December 1979 the Secretary of State predetermined the quantum for the AFE Pool in 1980-81 at £375 million at November 1979 prices. Any additional expenditure incurred will now have to be met by providing LEAs from their own rate-fund accounts. Allocations to LEAs from within the quantum were determined by halving the difference between their percentage shares in 1978-79 outturn and their estimates for 1980-81. Shortly afterwards, in February 1980, the DES announced that steps were being taken to restrict new course approvals by requiring RSIs to take stricter criteria into account in their considerations. These recent actions by central government are almost certainly short term measures, but although both heavy-handed and ad hoc in nature they will certainly reduce public expenditure on AFE. In general it seems that the current pooling arrangements are ripe for revision. The AFE Pool, which has been in existence since 1958, was arguably appropriate during a period of spectacular expansion in the further education service. It is unlikely that this expansion would have occurred so quickly or would so readily have matched consumer needs if providing authorities had been hampered with budgetary and recoupment problems of the type encountered in the early 1950s. However, in a period of relative stability, if not contraction, there seems little further excuse for divorcing the duties of financing and accountability. In the long run, it is likely that pooling will be replaced by a return to LEA responsibility for both finance and provision or greater central government control of AFE via some body akin to the University Grants Committee.


Regulation 12 of the 'Further Education Regulations, 1975' stipulates that 'The teachers shall be sufficient in number and have the qualifications necessary for the adequate instruction of the students in the courses provided'. This is a masterpiece of vagueness as no guidelines exist to determine numbers of staff and no formal teacher training qualifications are required of FE lecturers. In general teachers may be expected to have practical experience, gained in industry or from the professions, of the disciplines which they teach.

The salaries of further education teachers is by far the largest item of expenditure by LEAs on the further education service. In 1977-78 it accounted for 41% of all local authority expenditure on further education, or
58% if mandatory student awards are excluded (See Reference 3). A different survey for 1977-78 showed that the proportion of teaching staff costs in total costs per pupil was 57% in major establishments of further education and 48% in polytechnics (See Reference 4). The Remuneration of Teachers Act 1965 established the present arrangements for teachers' pay through the Burnham Further Education Committee, on which the local authority associations, teachers' organisations and the DES are represented under an independent chairman selected by the Secretary of State. In the event of a failure to agree in the Burnham Committee, by now a regular occurrence, salaries are determined by arbitration.

Conditions of service may not be negotiated in the Burnham Committee as they are outside the scope of the Remuneration of Teachers Act. These, including such things as length of terms and teaching hours per week, are determined by local negotiations between LEAs and union branches within a national framework agreed by the Council of Local Education Authorities (CLEA) and the teachers' unions in 1975. While this agreement was not formally binding upon LEAs, it has in practice been accepted as such. Articles of government describe procedures for appointment and dismissal, usually on the lines proposed in Circular 7/70.

A new 'National Joint Council for Teachers in Further Education in England and Wales' met for the first time in February 1980 and has replaced CLEA as the forum for negotiations on Conditions of Service. Indeed if the Remuneration of Teachers Act were repealed, the NJC could also replace Burnham as the forum for salary negotiations. This would clearly be appropriate as it is difficult to justify separate negotiations in these areas.


                                                                  PART  B



Before one looks at the ways in which teaching resources are allocated, it is appropriate are allocated by local authorities to maintained colleges of further education, it is appropriate to consider a number of theoretical perspectives which which either do or might influence the distribution process.

The following questions will be addressed in this chapter:

(a)  what resources are and their position in relation to the educational process;

(b)  how resources may be costed and whether returns on them may be calculated;

(c)  the extent to which the supply of resources can be said to match the demand created by consumers of education;

(d)  whether economies of scale are achievable in relation to resource distribution;

(e)  the significance of research on class size to a policy on resource allocation; and

(f)  what relevance objectives might have in this policy.

These considerations will be discussed in the above order.

(a)  Resources as inputs.

The concepts of inputs and outputs are central to thinking in the fields of both economics and systems analysis. In the former they underpin ideas of efficiency, productivity, cost/benefit analysis and 'value-added', and in the latter they are basic parts of the input-process-output-evaluation cycle. These concepts are fully applicable to the concept of education, in which they act as aids to clarity of thought. At present, however, it can justly be maintained that some confusion is evident among educationists as to the difference between inputs and outputs of the education system.

Such confusion is perhaps best illustrated by a DES feasibility study of output budgeting published in 1970 (See Reference 5). This planning paper claimed that output budgeting might be a coherent way of relating the Department's objectives, activities, inputs, and outputs. Its discussion of inputs was largely devoted to a consideration of how to define costs. These costs may be considered in a variety of ways: the budgetary cost  to both central and local government; the consequences for taxation and local rates; and total resource costs including the opportunity cost of foregone earnings (the students) and foregone production (the community). The DES paper opted for the use of public expenditure, i.e. budgetary costs, partly because of theoretical problems in relation to resource costs and partly because of lack of information by which to calculate them. In general, however, it can be argued that what to call an input is not a question of definition; rather, it is an issue which only makes sense in relation to the educational process and its outputs. What should be included will differ for an institution according to differing circumstances. The paper states:

' ..... that the programme budget would include whatever quantitative measures of output could be meaningfully constructed and used on a regular basis. These will almost always be intermediate rather than final outputs, that is to say, outputs associated with intermediate rather than final objectives: for instance pupil teacher ratios rather than educational standards. It is clearly important that the relationship between intermediate and final outputs should be understood: this will be the subject of special studies'.

This discussion of outputs has been the subject of sharp criticism by Pratt et al. who express dissatisfaction with the view that measures of output should not be those that might be most suitable for a particular purpose but those which can 'be meaningfully constructed'. In addition, if the relationship between intermediate and final outputs is not understood, they wonder how it is possible to assert that one is intermediate to another. In the case of the example given in the above extract, the relationship between pupil/teacher ratios and educational performance is not yet understood. If it transpired that there was no relationship, the so-called meaningful measure would have no meaning in this context at all. They conclude scornfully that 'It is an odd kind of economics where a manifest input is called an intermediate output, with no understood relationship to a final output' (See Reference 6).

In fact, however, most cost studies of further or higher education do employ measures of cost per student (i.e. unit costs). The bases of these measures vary, that is, they include calculations of student numbers, full-time equivalents or student hours. Such calculations take no account of the quality of provision, in terms of student success or failure in examinations, and in the costing process are often biassed against less teacher-intensive techniques of learning (See Reference 7). Above all, such studies are open to the objection that they use enrolments of students as a measure of output, to be seen in relation to inputs such as staff and buildings. Pratt et al. believe that: 'The practice is almost universal and fundamentally mistaken. It leads to a distortion, both of economics and education ... In education we ... need to be able to discuss what mix of inputs is most apt for producing desirable outputs. We are merely misled if we try to determine instead what mix of inputs would best accommodate other inputs' (See Reference 8).

In order to liberate us from the toils of this output budgeting, Pratt et al. recommend a consideration of the industrial analogy. Just as a firm mixes the inputs of capital, labour and raw materials to manufacture an output, so a college mixes its buildings, equipment, staff and uneducated students (the fundamental raw material) to produce educated students (the product) (See Reference 9). In this commonsense conception, enrolments and student/staff ratios are measures of inputs and educational standards are measures of outputs.

This view is of course the view of the practising educationist, and the criticisms of Pratt et al. are no doubt just. The tendency to use student enrolments as proxy outputs owes more to politics, i.e. a quantitative obsession with student numbers and participation rates in the egalitarian post-Robbins era, than to serious educational practice. While it is no doubt convenient for the politician to treat student enrolments as the product of buildings and staff, such a formulation is educationally sterile. On the other hand the industrial analogy put forward by Pratt et al. enables one to accommodate questions of quality which the enrolment-focussed view ignores. Thus, uneducated students can be seen as inputs, which when mixed with various combinations of other inputs, will produce outputs of differing quality. One can then proceed to consider the costs of such differences.

(b)  The costing of resources.

It is of importance to be able to cost resources not only as inputs but also in relation to the quality of the output to which they are intended to contribute. While the costs of inputs may be generally described as annual recurrent expenditure plus loan charges for capital, the costing of the outputs of further education creates conceptual problems. In a business enterprise, the cost of an output is the price of production plus profits. While a college of further education acquires no profits, the central difficulty concerns the price of the product. In a sense, the product does have a price, that is, the salary which the graduate or leaver can command, but this price is paid not to the college but to the leaver or rather to  the household to which he belongs. To this extent, therefore, there is no direct way in which the price of the product will affect the decision-making of the college, and there can be no economic relationship between the costs of the inputs and the price of the output. If measures of output, in relation to the costs of inputs, cannot be economic ones, the solution to this dilemma must be sought at the level of the individual course. Each course is a potential solution to an educational problem which differs according to the aims of each individual student, and the problem is solved by moving the student from where he is on entry to where he wishes to be on completion. Whether the student's aims are personal, educational, vocational or recreational, the contribution of the course is the difference which it has made to him. Measurement of educational outcomes is thus a very complex task and existing means of assessment will only provide partial solutions. Criticisms of examinations as tautologous, i.e. they judge the success with which a student has been prepared for an examination rather than his real educational development, can perhaps be exaggerated. After all, if success on the course, in relation to the individual student's aims, can be tied to the achievement of carefully monitored educational standards, as in many cases it can, examination results will contribute to the measurement of the output, i.e. the educated student, in a significant way. However, difficulties remain: not all differences are measurable, e.g. attitudes to knowledge or innovation; not all the attributes acquired by students will be consequent to the course, e.g. the mental security which age may bring; and not all examinations do provide meaningful feedback on the educational process. With regard to the last point, the tendency for the Council for National Academic Awards to focus its attention on input factors, e.g. entry qualifications of students, buildings, the quality of staff, rather than on educational standards, when validating courses of higher education, leads one to question the comparability of outcomes between the autonomous and public sectors of higher education and between different establishments in the public sector itself. Finally, of course, the  extent to which a given course has answered the needs of individual students is rarely, if ever, discovered. 

However, whatever the difficulties involved, it is the view of Pratt and his collaborators that it is essential that a calculation of the characteristics of student output should precede decisions as to the appropriate mix of resources. These decisions should then be made on the basis of cost or on other grounds. Once each course has been so designed the total output of a college could be described in such a way  that the costs of various inputs could be attributed to the achievement of various outputs. Of course a college could decide to concentrate only upon those outputs produced by the cheapest mix of inputs but in practice most would make value judgments which would have higher cost implications. Certainly it would be a mistake to feel that a characteristic is valueless because it cannot be costed. If decisions were taken in this way, judgments on resources would be well informed and might provide a rational argument against too stringent economies. 

Thus far the costs of students, both as inputs and eventually as outputs, have been considered mainly in relation to the educational system itself. To the system the input of uneducated students is costless and there is no price paid to the system for the product, the educated students. To the community as a whole the position is different. There have been the costs to householders of food, clothing, and shelter, and to public funds of previous education. There will continue to be costs to households in terms of maintenance and now also of salaries foregone, whereas there will be costs to the economy in terms of production forgone. To society as a whole there may also be some returns from investment in further education. To households economic returns may be seen as the difference between the lifetime earnings of educated students and their likely earnings if they had remained uneducated. To firms such returns may be seen in terms of the value added to the product by the employment of educated students once their enhanced salary levels have been taken into account. With regard to public expenditure, the costs include the support of educational establishments, the maintenance grants awarded to households and the loss of taxation which the student might otherwise have provided. The benefits will come as increased productivity with increased earnings as its proxy and as higher levels of taxation from the educated students. The ways in which the overall costs of further education may be expressed are therefore various, and which one is selected will depend on circumstances and not on budgetary convenience, for as Pratt et al. roundly assert, 'Budgets were made for man, not man for budgets'. By concentration upon the relationship of inputs and outputs, one facilitates considerations of productivity and the quality of the educational product. The practice of employing full-time equivalent student enrolments as the basis for resource allocation has been inequitable in that cost comparisons have involved arbitrary measures of part-time students, and inefficient to the extent that questions of quality have been largely ignored. However, once the product has been costed one can consider issues of productivity. Pratt et al. suggest the use of a graduate/staff ratio, which would focus attention upon the purpose of the institution and reduce enrolments of full-time equivalent students to their true status as matters of input. Concentration upon output also serves to accommodate the problems of student wastage rates, as Lewis (See Reference 11) has suggested. She put forward the idea of calculating the output of each year of a course, which would reflect that the costs of failure in one year might be greater than another. The output of each year would thus be intermediate outputs to the final output at the end of the course. Another aspect of productivity illuminated by considerations of input and output concerns the quality in qualifications of the student entry. A degree course which successfully accommodates entrants without 'A' Levels may be seen as achieving a higher rate of productivity than a course possessing entrants with these qualifications.

Finally it must be stressed that questions of quality are central to all resource considerations in education. For  a college of further education can have no returns to output and thus no compelling incentive to become more efficient. Only by assessing output and thereby achieving some element of quality control can the effects of financial stringency be countered. At present there are no methods of holding the quality of output constant, and thus all economies will tend towards a deterioration of the service.

(c)  Supply and demand.

This section is concerned to consider the extent to which the supply of resources allocated to further education can be said to reflect the demand provided by society.

Individual households buy further education in a sense through the costs of maintenance and income foregone, but there is no price which is paid to a local education authority or to the state. In economic terms, there is no price mechanism around which student demand and the supply of further education can move. Thus any relationship that exists between them cannot be conceived as an economic one. To summarise, there is an economic relationship between price and demand, but not either of these and supply. Even the demand is related less to the price of further education than to other things - the price of student maintenance and income foregone -, and this demand can be manipulated by levels of grant and starting salaries. Firms may be said to purchase the output of further education in terms of of the starting and lifetime salaries which are paid to successful students, but the further education system cannot be said to respond directly to such demands, although they may eventually be expressed via households. Once again no price mechanism is evident, however. What actually occurs may best be described as follows (See Reference 12). Households and firms together purchase further education from central and local government through taxes and rates. Government then buys it on their behalf from colleges through direct funding and grants to students. Society pays an additional price indirectly in respect of the lost production which the student might have contributed. The imposition of taxes and rates does reveal in a sense the extent of demand through pressure groups and opposition to expenditure on particular services. Government policy on the supply of further education is not however directly influenced by student demand, which can in any case be manipulated. To some extent supply will reflect the preoccupations of government, as in the Sixties, when education was thought to be the surest way to stoke up 'the white heat of technological change'. In general both demand and supply are politically derived: government balances what levels of taxation it thinks society will stand against the level of  services which it estimates society will expect. 

(d)  Economies of scale.

It is a continual hope of those who plan the provision of education that it will be possible in the allocation of resources to achieve economies of scale by the establishment of educational units of greater size. This hope had no doubt been one strand behind the development of polytechnics, institutes and colleges of higher education, sixth form and tertiary colleges and comprehensive secondary schools. During this decade the overall number of students, both full-time and part-time, rose by 45% and the number of institutions fell by 17%. During the same period expenditure rose massively by only 61% (See Reference 13). From these figures it would appear that substantial dis-economies of scale took place. Pratt et al. doubt that any evidence has been adduced to prove the existence of economies of scale in British education in recent years, although some studies of universities have purported to show that some economies of scale might be achieved if an expansion of student numbers used up surplus capacity (See Reference 14). It is difficult to find such claims convincing.

In the circumstances it is necessary to question the assumptions behind the concept of economies of scale. Economies of scale, or more accurately, increasing returns to scale, will only occur if the average costs of production fall without a reduction in quality as more is produced. There is, of course, nothing inevitable about economies of scale, and the reverse is just as possible. A firm may achieve economies of scale by using new technology or simply by increasing productivity in terms of output without extra costs. In education the first has usually led to additional staff and the second is difficult to achieve as the formulae for the provision of buildings, capitation allowances and staff have traditionally been tied to student numbers. This last is a very important point to make, for it effectively ensures that economies of scale will not be possible in the allocation of teaching resources. Where economies of scale have apparently occurred they are usually a temporary phenomenon, i.e. there is a timelag between the recruitment of additional students and the provision of additional buildings and equipment. Sometimes they may be unreal, in that they are based upon initially generous set up costs for a new course.

Even, if evidence, in a purely quantitative sense, for economies of scale had occurred, these economies would be largely meaningless if divorced from considerations of quality. Without the ability to measure quality, it is impossible to know whether cheaper costs are true economies or simple penury. Lewis' suggestion of using wastage rates for such a measure has a possible application in this context. Talk of marginal costs in education (i.e. the cost of providing for an additional student) assumes a constant quality of output. In fact cost studies of higher education have largely ignored such considerations, as, in the view of Pratt et al. has the DES.

As resources are attached to students in proportion to their numbers one would expect constant returns to scale. In fact, due to the growth of hierarchical structures in large educational establishments the returns tend to be decreasing. Thus DES' expectations of economies of scale have been illusory.

(e)  Class size considerations.

Teachers in further education, in common with teachers from other sectors, believe generally that lower student/staff ratios, accompanied by smaller class sizes, will produce an improved educational output. In addition, the concept of student/staff ratios assumes that additional elements of teaching staff will always be required in relation to each individual pupil. The allocater of resources needs to have a view on this matter.

In fact the extent to which teaching costs should be variable in proportion to the  number of students is open to some question. The position on class size research has recently been summarised as follows by C.Burstall:

'In general, class size has appeared to have no effect on achievement at all or, even less palatably, has appeared to be positively correlated with it - the larger the class, the higher the level of achievement - Indeed the concept of "optimal" class size is probably not a helpful one. Size cannot be divorced from context. Classes of different sizes may be equally effective for different purposes (See Reference 15)'. 

Whatever other arguments there may be for reducing student/staff ratios (See Reference 16), the message of the above is that no argument can be based on existing class size research. Even though this research has been carried out mainly in relation to schools, there is no reason to believe that its conclusions are not valid for further education.

B.D.Cullen, the Senior Economic Adviser to the DES has recently added to Miss Burstall's comments (See Reference 17). He points out that an economist is interested in the whole variety of resources that go towards the making of a product - materials, equipment, buildings and labour of different kinds. He will gain little from observing the effects of one input, in this case one type of labour, in isolation. Even if further research showed that more teachers produced better educational outcomes, as long as that research concentrated on teacher-related inputs alone one could know whether equivalent outcomes might not have been achieved by increasing expenditure on other inputs, possibly even at the expense of teaching staff. In his conclusion, Cullen makes 'a plea for renewed consideration to be given to the production functional approach to education'. Once again this means more emphasis on input mix and less on student/staff ratios.

(f)  The place for objectives.

The place of objectives in the process of resource allocation is also a necessary consideration. For the 16-19 age range, perhaps the most appropriate in relation to further education, the DES planning paper No.1 has suggested has suggested the following objectives:

'(1) To provide education and/or vocational training for all those between the ages of 16 and 19 who wish to receive it and could profit from it;

(2) To meet the requirements of society for people with education and training to this level, either to be employed directly or to go forward for further education and vocational training'.

Such objectives are unexceptional, but how does one evaluate the extent to which, in the most general terms, they are being achieved?

Birch and Parkes (See Reference 18) describe further education colleges as akin to retail co-operatives, that is, they exist to maximise member benefits. From this view the market provides the most appropriate measure of success in terms of enrolment levels and attendance rates. At a superficial level this approach has something to recommend it, for, as Birch and Parkes point out, a college without students cannot be considered successful. However, in terms of which courses to offer, enrolments can only be a part of the picture. Public choice follows social trends, and there is often an appreciable timelag between changing circumstances and public perception of such changes.

To the extent that resources for further education may be seen as an economic investment for the well-being of the local community as a whole, a providing local education authority may adopt in respect of courses policy guidelines which are more than just a reflection of current enrolment patterns. For instance, it may elect to develop or expand vocational training courses which relate to the needs of local industry rather than see a duplication of GCE courses already available in local secondary schools; it may give priority to the provision of pre-vocational courses or courses of unified vocational preparation for underachieving 16-19 year olds because of their poor employment value; it may oppose the development of courses designed to attract enrolments from a predominantly national or international market; and it may seek to fix a balance between the proportion of advanced and non-advanced courses offered. In circumstances where the providing authority was seeking to expand its industrial base, or arrest its decline, such interventionist policies might be most likely to occur.

Birch and Parkes' suggestion that student enrolments and attendance rates be used as a means of evaluating the success of a college in achieving its objectives is in fact an example of confused thinking. As Pratt et al. have continually stressed, enrolments are inputs, and thus they cannot be used to measure success in achieving objectives, which are inputs of another kind. Only outputs can do this. To the extent that that the courses offered and the enrolments obtained are often the product of deliberate policy on behalf of the academic staff of a college, these cannot be seen as an unbiassed statement of public demand. The courses which a college offers may best be seen as the activities by which a college implements its objectives. Past enrolment patterns are simply information which a college may choose to guide its choice of objectives and activities. The other proposed criterion of Birch and Parkes, attendance rates, is an output, or a measure of output, but this measure by itself provides only a marginal contribution to the question of how to assess performance, which is above all a qualitative problem, as we have seen earlier. In short, Birch and Parkes' proposals exemplify the quantitative analysis approach to resource allocation which Pratt et al. find so unsatisfactory. 

These latter remark that successive secretaries of state have failed to use their power, vested in Section 42 of the 1944 Education Act, to require local education authorities to produce development plans for further education. In consequence there is little evidence that present provision of further education is informed by a careful consideration of objectives and priorities. Rather the present situation may be said to reflect the historical remnants of previous DES policy (e.g. the division of colleges into regional, area and local establishments in the 1957 circular) and the results of more recent entrepreneurial activity of colleges, which has been only haphazardly controlled by the Regional Advisory Councils. In the past decade the flood of amalgamations between further education institutions and colleges of education provides evidence of central government steering. In the Greater London area, where free trade is mandatory under the terms of the !963 London Government Act, Local Education Authorities make no pretence of individual planning and rarely look to colleges to provide for specific needs.

This rudderless approach is criticised by Pratt et al. who argue that that local education authorities should be required to draw up development plans for further education. The objectives, which would determine the content of these plans, would then facilitate the the practice of 'problem budgeting', i.e. distributing resources in relation to the readiness of colleges to find solutions to the needs or problems posed by the development plans:

'In the creation of development plans the local authorities should operate on the principle that it is for them to establish what are the problems of their area and to make clear the priority which they give to each of these problems. It is for individual institutions to propose solutions. It is in these proposals of institutions that the authority will find grounds for the distribution of resources. In particular it will be encouraged to consider whether resources ought not to be reduced where the activities of institutions no longer make a direct contribution to those problems which the Authority believes important. It is clear that this would require a new style of administration in most local authorities, but it is only a qualitative change of this kind which will enable the authorities to exercise creative control rather than mere interference (See Reference 19).

By this mechanism of 'problem budgeting' both objectives and their successful accomplishment would guide the allocation of resources.


(a)  The Grading of Teaching Posts.

The grading of teaching posts in colleges of further education is determined by the annual Burnham Reports (Further Education) (See Reference 20), in which are published the approved salary arrangements for each year. Appendix IIA of the Report entitled 'Grading of Posts in Establishments for Further Education ... ' explains how the number of lecturing posts in each grade may be calculated.

For academic posts below Head of Department the Report relates the number of posts in each grade to the category and volume of course work. Courses are classified into five categories:

(I)       postgraduate;

(II/III) degree, higher national diploma/certificate and equivalent;

(IV)    ordinary national diploma/certificate and GCE 'A' Level; and

(V)     craft certificates, etc, GCE 'O' Level and below.

(N.B. The fusion of categories II and III in the 1979 Burnham Report follows the progressive phasing out of the City and Guilds Technician Certificates, of which the Part III, the Full Technological Certificate, was the most common source of Category III work.)

Once the volume of course work, classified in accordance with the above categories, has been assessed, the Report directs that local authorities shall adopt grading arrangements designed 'to secure an appropriate relativity between the standards of work and the post of the various categories of staff in the establishment of the college' (See Reference 21). According to the Report, the grades of staff employed on each category must be determined within staff grade bandwidths laid down in respect of percentages of the volume of work. Thus, with regard to Category II/III work in establishments of further education, Principal Lecturers must be employed on 10%-25% of the work and Senior Lecturers/Lecturers Grade II on 75%-90% of it. If a local authority decides that only the minimum proportion of the work, i.e. 10%, shall be taught by Principal Lecturers, then the maximum proportion of the work, i.e. 90%, will be taught by Senior Lecturers or Lecturers Grade II. It is worth pointing out that these bandwidths are often the subject of intense negotiation in the Burnham Committee and are occasionally varied. For instance with effect from 1 September 1978 the proportion of Lecturers Grade II employed on Category V work rose from 5%-15% to 15%-25%, while the proportion of Lecturers Grade I fell fell from 80%-95% to 70%-85%. This change, and others taken by individual local authorities with regard to the discretion permitted by the Education bandwidths, do have considerable financial consequences.

These bandwidths are an example of the Burnham Committee's concern, expressed at the beginning of Part 1 to their Appendix IIA that there should be a 'sufficient measure of flexibility to enable local education authorities to decide, in the light of all the relevant considerations, the grading of posts which they consider is best suited to the needs of the particular establishment ' (See Reference 22). Another example of flexibility is the provision for the appointment, at the discretion of the local authority, of a Principal Lecturer in circumstances where the minimum point of the bandwidth would not permit it, i.e., when the number of staff employed on Category I-II/III work is less than five. Finally, Part I concludes by stating that 'While Standards of work should be the essential consideration, it is competent for an authority to take other factors into account which they consider relevant to the grading of posts'. For instance, a college might be permitted to appoint a Senior Lecturer to act as course tutor for a pre-vocational course for 16-19 year old students of low educational attainment; while the level of work would in normal circumstances not generate such an appointment, the local authority might allow an exception in view of the expertise required for an important innovation. 

In general, however, local authorities are required by the terms of the Burnham Report to observe a close relationship between level of post and category of work. This can be further exemplified by the conditions attached in Appendix IA of the Report to the progression of Lecturers Grade II to Senior Lecturers, and to progression through the salary bars in the Senior and Principal Lecture scales. In all three cases responsibility  for 'a significant amount of Category I and/or II and/or III standard' (normally 50%) is a requirement for further advancement. Although this condition that a lecturer should be employed on 50% advanced course work at the time of his progression is often met within a department by the expedient device of the reshuffling of advanced work among staff - a practice colloquially known as 'the bounty year' -, the intention remains clear.

While the grading of lecturers is thus firmly related to the volume and level of course work, the remuneration of senior posts, i.e. Principals, Vice-Principals and Heads of Department, is determined by the number of 'student hours' assessed in accordance with categories of work and modes of attendance. The aggregate of student hours thus determined is then converted to 'unit totals' from which are derived, for salary purposes, the grades of departments and the groups of colleges. There is a marked differential between the value of advanced and non-advanced or 'low level' course work. 1 unit may be claimed for every 600 student hours of Category IV and V work, for every 300 student hours of Category II/III work, and for every 100 hours of Category I work. Thus degree and equivalent work is three times, and postgraduate work is six times, more valuable than non-advanced course work. Another differential involves the modes of attendance. Full-time students have a greater value in terms of unit totals than their part-time counterparts. Whereas only the actual registered hours' of part-time students may be counted, for full-time students 95% of the time spent in the college/department' is the criterion. Such time would include work on assignments and private study when a student was not under the direction of a member of staff. These 'Burnham' incentives to provide, on the one hand, for advanced students, and, on the other hand, for full-time ones may be seen as important factors leading towards the tendency of 'academic drift' in the nature of further education institutions, i.e. a change in the character of an institution that occurs as a result of staff ambitions rather than a change of policy by the LEA.

(b)  Conditions of Service.

While the Burnham Reports define the grades of posts associated with categories of work, the amount of work undertaken by members of the academic staff of colleges is defined, not by Burnham, but by Conditions of Service agreements between local education authorities and teacher unions. Such agreements stipulate, inter alia, the length and distribution of the college year, the length of a teaching session, the maximum number of 'contracted' hours per week and the number of hours taught per each staff grade.

Before 1975 the details of Conditions of Service agreements differed widely from region to region. In that year, a document entitled 'Recommendations for Local Conditions of Service for Further Education Teachers' was agreed by a joint negotiating committee of the Council of Local Education Authorities (CLEA) and the Further Education Teachers' Organisations. This agreement, although not binding,  has largely been accepted by authorities. It laid down a maximum of 36 teaching weeks in an academic year and a normal maximum of 30 hours per week for each lecturer. Class contact hours per week for each grade were to be determined by local agreement within the following bandwidths: Lecturer I 15-18 hours; Lecturer II 17-20 hours; Senior Lecturer 15-18 hours; Principal Lecturer 13-16 hours. The difference between the class contact hours per grade and those of the working week are 'residual' hours, utilised in the main as preparation and marking time.

The details of Conditions of Service agreements, particularly the limits on weekly contact hours, have clear resource implications.

(c)  Student Hours.

While central to the allocation of resources in further education, the concept of student hours is unfortunately both ambiguous and liable to lead to distortion of goals.

The main difficulty in applying student hours for measuring student need arises from the variety of modes of attendance available to further education students. These modes include (a) full-time, (b) full-time extended session, (c) sandwich, (d) block release, (e) part-time day (including release), (f) part-time day and evening (including release), (g) evening only, and (h) linked courses (for school pupils). For various varieties of full-time students Part III to Appendix IIA of the Burnham document approves certain weightings. As we have seen, 95% of the maximum student hours of full-time students in the academic year are accountable for the calculation of unit totals, and a similar factor is applied to the maximum hours of a full-time course of 'more than one term but less than one year's duration. For courses 'not exceeding one term's duration', full-time students are allowed a weighting of 110% of student hours. Neither of these latter categories are common; more significant is the Burnham Committee's recommendation that an 'addition ... of the order of 10 per cent of the student hours for the year of the course' be allowed for sandwich students 'during the period (if any) of the year spent in industry'.

For part-time students the Burnham Report, as we have noted earlier, equates student hours with curricular hours, i.e. the time in which students are in contact with a teacher. In respect of full-time students, however, student hours are defined as 'the time spent in the college/department as determined by the local education authority in consultation with the college Principal and shall be the maximum hours ... of the academic year' (See Reference 23).

In turn these are defined as 'The maximum time spent in the college/department during normal hours whether in formal lectures, practical work, tutorials or individual work (e.g. in the library) ... ' (See Reference 24).

This formula, as we have explained above, makes it advantageous for colleges to recruit full-time students because their private study time, though that within the college, is counted towards their student hours. An additional advantage is that, unlike their par-time counterparts, their absence from classes does not affect the total of student hours calculated. While the effect of the latter point will be open to widespread variation, the effect of the former can be clearly illustrated. The maximum attendance of a full-time student will equate approximately to the hours in which the college is open during the day, which, excluding the evening session, will be about 6 hours 30 minutes. Applying the Burnham factor of 95%, one can calculate that one full-time student will generate around 30 student hours per week, of which perhaps only 20 hours will be curricular time. A part-time student attending, say, a 2 hour evening 'A' Level class will generate 20 student hours in 10 weeks, but, although his curricular hours will by then equate to those of the full-time student in one week, the student hours of the full-time student will be 1.5 times greater. This disparity is set out more clearly below:


Type of               Curricular           Hours spent           Student Hours
student                Hours                 in college               generated

  (a)                        (b)                       (c)                           (d)

Full-time             20 (one week)     31.5*                     30 (95% of c)

Part-time            20 (10 weeks)     20                          20 
* Approximate number of hours per week when college is open for the morning and afternoon sessions.

The disparity illustrated above relates only to student hours totalled for the purpose of calculating unit totals. Such calculations are of course mandatory upon local authorities. While this bias towards full-time students is questionable in relation to the remuneration of senior staff, it is likely to lead to greater distortion if these student hours were used by authorities to determine staffing establishments. For this purpose the curricular hours of students may be seen as the more appropriate data for decision-making. However, student hours could be used to calculate establishments if steps were taken to reduce the disparity between full-time and part-time students that their use would otherwise involve.

(d)  Contact hours.

For the purpose of calculating a staffing establishment, an authority might find it more appropriate to use the contact hours of lecturers rather than the total or curricular hours of students. Contact hours may be defined as the hours in which a member of staff is in teaching contact with students. Such contact would include, for instance, workshop or laboratory supervision, examination invigilation and visiting sandwich students as well as classroom instruction. The main difficulty of using contact hours as an index of need is that these can be generated excessively by the teaching of small groups of students. While a class of 24 students taught for 2 hours generates only 2 contact hours, the same class sub-divided into 4 groups and each taught for 2 hours would generate 8 contact hours. Thus, without some guidelines as to class size, the use of contact hours to calculate staffing would encourage the growth of small teaching groups. Another difficulty is that contact hours can be increased by over-teaching. In the case of part-time students this is difficult to achieve as increasing attendance requirements would be unpopular with both students and employers alike, and would lead in all probability to reduced levels of enrolment. With regard to the full-time students, it is possible, simply by boosting teaching time to increase establishments where these are based uncritically upon the volume of contact hours. In 1978 it was calculated that the average input of curricular hours to an 'A' Level Mathematics course in an ILEA college of further education was approximately double that available to a similar course in the sixth form of one of that authority's secondary schools. In schools, where unit totals are calculated not on pupil hours but on pupil numbers and ages, the Burnham system induces a tendency opposite to over teaching, that is it encourages the accommodation of the maximum number of sixth form pupils with the minimum amount of curricular time. It is clearly simpler for a college to increase its total of contact hours by giving more teaching to the same number of students than by giving the same amount of teaching to more students. Of course, some disparity between curricular time allocated to GCE courses in further education and that allocated to similar courses in schools may be justifiable. To some extent further education may be said to specialise in students with learning problems. Such students may include 'drop-outs' from school, students retaking examinations on one year intensive courses and overseas students with particular cognitive difficulties. However, where high levels of curricular input do indicate over-teaching, such a practice is both inefficient and wasteful, in that the excess capacity could be put to better use elsewhere. In addition, it is educationally undesirable as it will erode an individual student's private study time.

(e)  Class size.

A further important factor to be considered in the allocation of teaching resources to further education is that of class size. In fact, it was largely concern with regard to small class sizes in the new polytechnics which resulted in the Pooling Committee's Memorandum (1972) into student/staff ratios for advanced level work in polytechnics and colleges of further education.

Very small class sizes, i.e. two or three, are perhaps difficult to justify in any circumstances in public sector education, and comparisons are often drawn between the apparently small classes in further education and the substantially larger groups to be found in the primary and secondary sectors. However, in respect of the 16-19 age range, class sizes in further education compare well with their counterparts in schools, whether these are in traditional sixth forms or sixth form colleges. Class size in further education is usually determined by the following factors: the demand, the level of work, and the physical constraints. For advanced courses regional or national approval is required, and for non-advanced courses the local authority's agreement is needed. In all cases such approval is conditional upon stipulated minimum levels of recruitment, which for advanced work are usually set at lower levels than for non-advanced work. The maximum number of students that a course can enrol may also be determined by such constraints as room size and the availability of necessary equipment. For practical courses, in which students spend much of their time in workshops, laboratories, kitchens, etc., safety and workspace factors set definite limits on the number of students that can be accommodated.

While average class size is generally supposed to be an important aspect of measuring resource utilisation, the associated concept of minimum class size has been the cause of considerable confusion. DES Circular 11/66, which was based upon the recommendations of the Pilkington Report (See Reference 25), indicated the minimum acceptable number of initial enrolments that a course should be required to achieve. These are set out below:


Type/mode of course                                                  Minimum enrolment

Full-time (including sandwich)                                                24

Part-time day involving large
     element of workshop practice                                           15

Other part-time day                                                                20

Evening (when day courses approved)                                  Ad hoc

All courses when accessible provision
     is already available                                                            50

Circular 11/66 left considerable scope for local education authorities to exercise discretion, and recommended that, where proposals to commence new course were made without the prospect of achieving the above minimum enrolment targets, exceptions might be made in the following circumstances:

a.  experimental courses in new fields;

b.  courses in specialised fields - in some courses of this nature the minimum enrolment may never be achieved;

c.  courses where physical limits of space restrict the numbers it is possible to enrol;

d.  postgraduate courses - enrolments for these should be considered on their merits;

e.  part-time courses without which substantial numbers of students would be deprived of opportunities to     study, i.e. in country areas, or where a course is highly specialised.

Thus the Circular's recommendations were designed to leave local education authorities considerable room for flexibility. Indeed, in respect of full-time courses, the minimum enrolment set by the RAC and RSI is frequently below the normal minimum of 24. Nevertheless, it is often felt that the freedom of further education colleges to run courses with small numbers is severely circumscribed by comparison with universities and even with secondary schools, in which a headmaster may commence a course with one student if he wishes. In fact, the contrast is not nearly so sharp. The so-called 'Pilkington minima' are designed to deal with enrolments for courses, i.e. they are concerned with course numbers rather than class sizes. The confusion, to which reference was made above, surrounds both the distinction made between these two factors and the interface between them. Circular 11/66 was concerned with course numbers in order to halt the unnecessary proliferation of courses at a time of unparallelled expansion. For unless a course is able to depend upon a solid base of students it might be very expensive in terms of unit costs, while, to the extent that it might attract students from other centres, it might prejudice the cost-effectiveness of courses elsewhere as well.

While Circular 11/66 made definite recommendations for minimum course numbers it laid down no guidance for actual class, or group, sizes. Thus, once a college has enrolled at least the minimum number of students, the group sizes in which the students are taught may be decided by the college authorities. Sometimes the whole course number may be taught as a single group; often, however, courses will be divided into smaller groups to facilitate more effective teaching, or to allow for different options to be studied. In the latter case, there is a clear connexion between course and class sizes. A college may be tempted to offer a wide range of options within, say, a full-time BEC HND in Business Studies course which it is hoping to commence, in order to ensure the recruitment of sufficient students to meet the Pilkington minima. However, course divisions which such option commitments create often lead to group sizes below that which a local education authority might find economical. A clearer example might involve the provision of GCE 'A' Levels. A college might enrol 30 students for an 'A' Level Science course which offered a choice of three out of four subjects, say, Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry and Biology. Supposing that all 30 opted for Mathematics and 20 each for the three Science subjects, it is evident that only by classifying the course as an 'A' Level Science course, rather than designating each subject separately, has the Pilikington minimum of 24 been satisfied. Of course, it is quite possible that the numbers in all four subjects may be further sub-divided. In these circumstances the average group size might become as low as 11 students. While such numbers may or may not be considered reasonable, it is clear that the distinction between course and class sizes does enable colleges to evade any possibility that the Pilkington minima, per se, will create economy of provision. In this respect, these minima are a blunt weapon, being unable by themselves to ensure that class sizes in further education are higher than in sixth forms. 

However, even if Circular 11/66 had been concerned with class sizes rather than course enrolments, it must be said that the fixing of rigid minimum class sizes would be both impracticable and educationally retrogressive, in that this would usurp from the college authorities the detailed management decisions which are best delegated to them. In deciding what a particular class size would be, the Head of Department concerned might take account of the ability of the students, the experience of the lecturer, the demands of the course and the availability of accommodation and equipment. A local education authority would not have access to such information. However the authority might be expected to take decisions on average class sizes as a proper accompaniment to the allocation of resources. In fixing these levels it would have to bear in mind the factors of student demand, level of work and physical constraints. Since different groups of students within a college may meet for different lengths of time, any calculations of average class size (ACS) ought to take into account this time factor as well. Thus Delany defines ACS as 'the average number of students per teaching hour given by the academic staff ' (See Reference 26).

If a local education authority lays down the level of ACS required, there should be no requirement to fix minimum class sizes as well. However, this might be done in order to effect economies of provision or to ensure a reasonable balance of resources between departments or levels of work. For instance, in 1978 the Inner London Education Authority set a minimum number of 12 students per option on BEC and TEC courses in its colleges of further education.

(f)  Full-time Equivalent Staff.

In a calculation of the number of academic staff employed by a college the total number of staff is of little value due to the large proportion of part-time staff involved. Due to the uncertainty of demand for some courses and the need to cover full-time staff vacancies and long term absences due to sickness and maternity, colleges need the flexibility of part-time hours. In consequence it is necessary to calculate the full-time equivalent (FTE) total of staff in each college.

The conversion of part-time hours into FTE staff is most commonly achieved by dividing part-time hours by the average contact hours of a full-time member of staff. The average could be that of the college or the local education authority. A refinement would be to apply different averages for each level of work. The Pooling Committee applies a global average of 18 hours per week for all advanced work. Another method of converting part-time hours into FTE is to cost them and then divide the result by the average costs of a full-time member of staff, salary costs including 'on-costs' for superannuation and national insurance. While this might be more attractive in terms of management accountancy, the fluctuations in annual salaries and superannuation and national insurance contributions make this method too complex for colleges to handle.

Apart from the difficulties caused by part-time staff, calculations of FTE staff involve other problems. Decisions have to be made as to whether to include in the total Burnham salaried staff who may do either no, or only a little, teaching, i.e. Principals, Vice-Principals, Heads of Department, Research staff, Tutor-Librarians, Student Counsellors and Wardens of hostels. Another matter of importance is the remission from class contact hours given to academic staff for duties other than teaching. Equivalent class contact hours are allocated by LEAs to colleges or constituent departments for such duties as course direction and development, examination setting and marking, laboratory supervision, student welfare, industrial liaison and research projects. To the extent that hours are remitted for such purposes, additional staff has to be provided to cover the teaching duties.

Whether Burnham staff who do little or no teaching and staff who are employed due to remission are included in an assessment of FTE staff will depend upon the purposes for which the assessment is made.

(g)  Full-time Equivalent Students.

In the further education sector the majority of students are part-timers. However, for the purposes of counting and costing, the par-time students, the majority, are generally aggregated in terms of their equivalence to full-time students, the minority.

The various ways in which FTE students are, or might be, calculated have been explained at great length by Norma Whittaker (1976) (See Reference 27). Unfortunately this explanation is riddled with dubious distinctions and occasional confusions of terminology. In simple terms, present methods vary according as to whether conversion to FTEs is applied to student hours or student 'bodies'.

In converting student hours to FTEs, it is common to divide the total number of student hours per week in a college or department by the average number of student hours per week of a full-time student, say, 30. Thus the number of  FTE students generated by a 2.5 hour evening class of 20 students would be 2.5 x 20/30 = 1.66. Some colleges or local education authorities might find it convenient to employ annual student hours because of figures already gathered to calculate unit totals as required by Burnham. In this case annual student hours would be divided by 1080, the average number of full-time student hours in a 36 week academic year. Thus the calculation for the above class would be 2.5 x 20 x 36/1080 = 1.66.

The alternative method of calculating FTE students is to apply fractions to the number of full-time and part-time student 'bodies'. This method is based on the average number of hours per week spent by various types of student according to modes of attendance. In the case of block release and short full-time students the calcualtion would be based on the number of weeks attended during the academic year. The fractions applied might be as set out below:


Mode of attendance             Average no. of                        Conversion                  Reciprocal
                                           hours per week                        factor

         (a)                                       (b)                                      (c)                               (d)

Full-time                                       30                                       1                                  1

Sandwich                                      24                                       0.8                              1.25

Part-time day                                  7.5                                    0.25                             4               

Evening only                                   2.5                                    0.08                            12

Thus one can say in relation to the above table that one part-time day student counts as 7.5/30 = 0.25 FTE students or the factor can be expressed in terms of its reciprocal. i.e. 1 full-time student equates to 4 part-time day students.

The conversion factor of a block release student, assuming he attended for 12 weeks out of the 36 week year, would be 0.33. Alternatively one could say that 1 full-time student equates to 3 block release students.

However the number of FTE students is calculated, all methods, as Pratt et al. observe (See Reference 28), underestimate the true equivalence of part-time students. That this is so is primarily for two reasons: firstly, because the 30 hour student week of the average full-time student, which is used as the basis of most FTE calculations, causes an undue disparity between full-time and part-time students, for whom only curricular hours may count; and secondly, because no account is made of the relatively concentrated nature of part-time courses and the greater level of teacher preparation which they require.

The first of these causes can be resolved to some extent by using the curricular rather than the student hours of the average full-time student as the basis of the calculation. If one assumes that one fifth of a full-time student's time is spent on private study, his average curricular hours would be 24 per week. In the case of the above example of the 20 evening only students attending a 2.5 hours class each week, the following number of FTEs would now be generated: 50/24 = 2.08. If annual Burnham student hours were used for the conversion, the appropriate divisor could be reduced by one fifth of 1080, i.e. 216. The calculation would now be 2.5 x 20 x 36/864 = 2.1 FTEs. With regard to conversions to FTEs of student 'bodies', a full-time student would equate to 3.2 part-time day and 9.6 evening only students. While it will thus be seen that the practice of employing curricular hours as the basis of FTE conversions is more favourable to part-timers, it does involve difficulties. Whereas the 30 hours per week is generally acceptable as a figure, the appropriate curricular hour divisor will inevitably vary from college to college and from department to department within colleges. The use of an average figure such as 24 curricular hours across a whole local education authority might lead to dissensions. At the same time it should be noted that the higher the average number of curricular hours per full-time student, the less will be the number of FTEs generated by part-time hours/students. Thus an authority wishing to promote the provision of courses for part-time students should be concerned to minimise the curricular input approved for full-time courses.   

However, even when the disparity described above has been countered, the need to recognise the concentrated nature of teaching part-timers remains. As Pratt et al. put it, 'Where contact hours are used as a basis, it is reasonably argued that teaching part-timers requires a greater amount of non-contact time than teaching full-timers. In addition, teaching part-timers is itself a more intensive activity: time-tabled hours spent in leisurely chat with full-timers are not available to their part-time counterparts' (See Reference 29). It is worthy of note that part-time students are counted more favourably in other sectors of higher education. The DES assesses part-time students in Colleges of Education as 0.75 of a full-time student, and at Birkbeck College, London, part-time undergraduates are rated as equivalent to 0.8 of a full-timer. With regard to further education, it would be possible to apply weightings, even if arbitrarily assessed, to the divisors and conversion factors discussed above. These mechanisms might then be seen less as being based upon analytical factors and more as tools of policy. In general, therefore, the employment of weightings is more equitable to part-timers and facilitates a more positive approach to resource matters whereas conversion without weightings has the advantage of being a more objective process.

Pratt et al. also argue that part-time students are further underestimated in the process of resource allocation because resources are distributed on the basis of central rather than teaching costs, i.e. all costs are aggregated and then  divided up between FTE students, calculated on conventional bases. They argue that part-time students cost as much as to administer and to accommodate as full-timers, and suggest that, in order to achieve a more realistic measure of the conversion factors to ascribe to part-time students, it is necessary to separate teaching costs, i.e. staff, teaching materials, equipment and books, from central costs, e.g. administrative salaries and materials, rent, rates, insurance, maintenance, student union facilities. By applying this approach to 14 polytechnics for 1967-68, they claim an average underestimate of FTE students of 20 per cent. While that work is not strictly relevant to this study, which is concerned with teaching resources in particular, it does indicate the dangers of a simplistic approach to resource provision.

(h)  Student/Staff Ratios

As Whittaker points out, 'The most hotly debated topic in FE circles today is the student/staff ratio (SSR)' (See Reference 30). To educational administrators the concept of SSR is attractive because of its apparent simplicity. In reality, of course, it is far from simple as anyone seeking to calculate the SSR of a further education college has to traverse the FTE minefields described above. These problems are much less severe in schools where both staff and pupils are full-time and where there is a considerable means of uniformity in both the the patterns of courses and the methods of teaching. These circumstances are to some extent evident also in respect of universities and colleges of education. Student/staff ratios are very difficult to apply to the further education sector where there are nine modes of attendance, a relatively high proportion of part-time staff, five categories of academic work ranging from postgraduate to pre-vocational basic studies, and an enormous range of disciplines stretching from the completely practical to the completely academic. In addition the market situation of further education colleges, i.e. their ability to forecast levels of enrolment and course choices, is much less stable than that of other sectors of education. In consequence, any application of student/staff ratios for resource purposes is bound to provoke hostility unless great care is taken both to calculate them appropriately in relation to their different purposes, and then apply them consistently. Student/staff ratios can be used both to allocate staffing establishments to educational institutions and to monitor the use of these resources when allocated. They can be employed both externally by a local education authority and internally by a college. Their various uses will be explained in more detail subsequently, but it is important to emphasise these differences here as they may help to explain the different ways in which student/staff ratios are calculated.


The Burnham (FE) Report provides for proportions of gradings of post against the volume of work in each category; the 1975 CLEA/FE Conditions of Service agreement provides for class contact hour bandwidths per week and the duration of the teaching year; but no agreement determines the calculation of the size of college establishments. It is in this area that the local education authorities retain their principal discretion in the allocation of teaching resources to the further education sector.

Of course, local education authorities have a similar power in relation to their resourcing of schools, where numbers of staff are allocated according to pupil/teacher ratios. In the school sectors authorities are required by law to provide full-time education for all 5-16 year old children resident in their areas and have also to cater adequately for all 16-18 year old pupils likely to benefit from remaining at school. While provision of further education facilities has to be provided under the Section 41 of the 1944 Act there is no requirement for all would-be students to be accommodated. As there is no fixed commitment, levels of provision and the types of courses offered may be determined at the discretion of education policy-makers within local education authorities, and such decisions are likely to be heavily influenced by financial considerations.

With regard to further education teaching staff, the local authority budgetary process requires for each coming financial year forecasts of the number of FTE posts, the consequent gross expenditure, and any income likely to be received from Industrial Training Boards, the Manpower Services Commission, other 'full-cost' courses and consultancies. In achieving these estimates, a local education authority would typically undertake an 'Annual Teaching Staff Review' with each of the colleges of further education which it maintains. The information sought in such a review has recently been described by S.J. Tarling, the Principal Education Officer of Oxfordshire (See Reference 31). The basis of the next year's staff need will be the approved staffing level of colleges for the present year.

a.  Staff grade/contact hour system

Due partly, perhaps, to the difficulties of applying SSRs to further education, it is general to calculate academic staff entitlements in colleges by means of the 'staff grade/contact hour system'. This method of allocating staff involves applying Burnham criteria in respect of course categories and proportions of work per grade of post to volume of work measured by the contact hours of lecturers as determined by the 1975 Conditions of Service agreement.

According to Whittaker (See Reference 32), 'The method may be expressed  mathematically as follows:-

S = 1/W x H  <  C x P

Where S = number of staff at a given grade (i.e. PL, SL, LII, or LI);

           W = number of teaching weeks in the college calendar;

           H = number of annual teacher hours per conditions of service;

           C = number of class contact hours per annum at each category of work;

      P = number of posts according to the Burnham Report Appendix II Part A for the categories of work.

Using material provided by the Inspector for Further Education, Buckinghamshire County Council, Whittaker provides a 'worked example' which shows in detail the the assessment of the teaching entitlement of one department in an FE college. The complexities of the calculations are fully explained in this example. For each appropriate grade of post, the product of the number of class contact hours per annum at each category of work and the percentage of posts according to Burnham for each category is divided by by the
annual number of teaching hours for each staff grade. The quotients, when aggregated, give the total Teaching Staff Establishment (TSE), as well as the number of posts at each grade. This example is particularly valuable because it relates the problem of fractional entitlements and remitted hours to the need to provide for part-time hours. As the above quotients will not normally produce staff at each grade in whole numbers, decisions have to be made as to whether to convert part of the balance of hours to further full-time posts or whether to use it all for part-time hours. The position is further complicated by the need to take account of equivalent class contact hours remitted to departments on an overall, i.e. a non-grade, basis for the purpose of essential academic tasks other than teaching. Using the data in Whittaker's example, 40 FT staff plus a balance of 348 hours is added to an agreed remission of 1260 contact hours. As the example shows, the department's teaching commitment can then be covered by 40 lecturers plus 1608 part-time hours or 41 lecturers plus 924 part-time hours (assuming the appointment of an additional LII covering 684 contact hours per year). In fact, as a reasonable allocation of part-time hours is attractive to local authorities as a buffer against a sudden drop in enrolments and to colleges as a means of covering staff absences, the higher figure of 1608 part-time hours (i.e. about 6% of the total staffing provision) would probably be more acceptable. Part-time hours may vary between about 5 to 10% of academic staffing budgets in colleges).

As alternatives to the above procedures an authority could subtract an agreed percentage for part-time use from the class contact hours for each grade before calculating the numbers of full-time staff, or round staff at each grade to the nearest whole number before making part-time allocations. In both cases these alternatives would be more appropriate to calculating a theoretical than an actual establishment, while the need to allocate remitted hours would remain.

The staff grade/contact hour system for all its complexities is of little value to a local education authority in decisions about levels of staffing. All it does is to tell one, what, in the light of Burnham and the Conditions of Service agreement, will be the quantity of staff at each grade required to cover the teaching load which a college has programmed. It can tell us nothing about how effective or economical this programming of staff has been. The system incorporates no information about numbers of students or about average class sizes, and can do nothing to discourage overteaching or unduly small group sizes in a department. In the absence of other controls, it would encourage the maximisation of contact hours both in order to increase staff numbers and levels of remuneration. In fact, as Whittaker correctly observes, this 'method of calculation can be considered as "circular in that it commences with hours taught by lecturers and ends up with the number of lecturers' (See Reference 33).

b.  Staff grade/student hour system.

An alternative, and in some ways preferable, way of calculating the establishment of a college would be to use student hours instead of lecturer hours as a means of assessing the volume of work. This method would employ the use of student hours which are computed annually in order to calculate Burnham unit totals.

Whittaker's formula for this method is as follows:

S = 1/W x H  <  SH x P/ACS

Where SH = annual student total hours in each category of work, as for Burnham return;

           ACS = the agreed figure for average class size.

(The parameters S, W, H, and P are as defined in the previous method.)

Unlike the staff grade/contact hour system, this method, by incorporating student hours and average class size requirements would avoid circularity, i.e. it would not be dependent upon itself. By judicious use of average class sizes a local authority could import a new dimension into the calculations. Such average class sizes could vary according to departments, categories of work and modes of study.

However, this method also involves a great many difficulties. While total student hours may be justifiable as a means of determining the groups of colleges and the grades of departments, their use to determine the size of
a TSE might encourage colleges to switch their efforts into courses for full-time students whose private study time is included in student hour calculations. Of course, curricular hours could be employed instead of student hours in order to discount this disparity, but even this improvement would not by itself avoid the possibility that curricular hours of full-time students could be generated by overteaching. Finally it must be said that that at the macro-level of staff allocation by an authority insistence on average class sizes might involve serious disputes with colleges as well as unduly restricting the flexibility of college managements.

c.  Student/staff ratios.

Another approach to the calculation of college establishments is to use SSRs; indeed this method is becoming increasingly common. As has been noted earlier, it is an apparently simple device both to understand and to calculate, although in practice it is bedevilled in further education by the difficulties of counting part-time students. An authority wishing to staff its colleges on the basis of an SSR would presumably begin by making its calculations in relation to the immediate situation. It should first be noted that various SSRs can be calculated in further education according as to how FTE students are measured.

With regard to FTE staff the formula commonly used is as follows:

No. of F-T staff + Annual contact hours of P-T staff/Annual contact hours of average F-T lecturer.

The only problem here is that it might be more equitable to make separate calculations in respect of P-T hours for each category of work; this might be justified particularly in a college with a wide range of course levels. In practice, however, annual contact hours of the average full-time lecturer are likely to vary between 648 hours and 720 hours (i.e. 18-20 hours per week in a 36 week.)

The main choices which must be confronted with regard to SSRs concern measures of FTE students. If student hours are used as the basis of the calculation, it is necessary to decide whether one employs Burnham 'student hours' as aggregated for unit totals or 'curricular' hours. Numbers of FTE students can thus be calculated by one of the following three ways:

(i)  F-T students + P-T annual student hours/1080;

(ii)  F-T students + P-T annual students hours/850;

(iii)  Total annual curricular hours/850.

Of these methods the third helps to show teaching needs more accurately and does not discriminate in favour of colleges with large numbers of full-time students. Of the other two the first would particularly discourage colleges from developing part-time courses as the divisor of 1080, the total annual student hours of an average full-time student, would considerably restrict the number of FTE students that could be derived from part-time hours. Methods (ii) and (iii) employ a divisor of 850, approximately one fifth of 1080, the total student hours of an average full-time student. Whichever of the three methods is followed, this approach of calculating FTE students by using hours has the merit of being simple.

The most celebrated example of calculating SSRs in this manner is the Pooling Committee formula for advanced further education, applied on the basis of data in the Spring Term. Under this formula FTE students are calculated by dividing the total curricular hours of all students other than sandwich course students by the average number of curricular hours of a typical full-time student (an addition of 10% is added to the curricular hours of full-time students on courses lasting less than one term's duration) and adding to the product of 0.9 x all registered sandwich course students.

FTE staff are, under this formula, calculated by counting all full-time members of staff solely engaged with advanced level work, appropriate fractions of full-time staff engaged upon advanced and non-advanced level work, and the total number of hours of part-time staff on advanced level work divided by 12 x 18 (i.e. the number of weeks in the term x the number of hours per week of a nationally average full-time lecturer engaged on advanced level work). While Heads of Department are included, Principals, Vice-Principles and other non-teaching Burnham staff are excluded as are members of research staff sponsored by sources other than public funds. The Pooling Committee SSR formula, which is applied separately to the different faculty groups, is designed as a monitoring device to assess the use of teaching resources on advanced level courses. Thus it employs curricular hours as the basis for measuring FTE students and it excluded non-teaching staff. Its simplicity is shown by its use of global divisors for part-time hours of both students and staff.

The Pooling Committee formula, like all SSR formulae of this type, takes no account of the different modes of attendance of students. This is the strength of SSR formulae which count FTE students on the basis of 'bodies'. Under this approach, FTEs would be all full-time students plus students following other modes of attendance multiplied by the appropriate factors.

An example of this type of SSR formula is that employed by the 'Further Education Officers (Outer London Boroughs) Group', which reports to the Advisory Body of Chief Education Officers to the London Boroughs Association Education Committee. The Outer London Borough's (OLB) formula is applied on an overall basis to colleges of further education in respect of numbers of students and staff on 1 November of each year. Like the Pooling Committee's formula, the OLB formula divides part-time staff hours by 18 to convert them to FTE staff, but this includes in the calculation all members of staff salaried under Burnham, including Principals and Vice-Principals. FTE students are counted under the OLB formula according to the following nine modes of attendance, each of which has a conversion factor:


Mode of attendance                                                             Conversion factor

           (a)                                                                                        (b)

Full-time  )                                                                                        1
Sandwich )
Block  Release )                                                                    x/y, where
Short Full-time )                                                                    x = weeks in attendance                                             
Extended Year )                                                                    y = weeks in college year 

Part-time Day                                                                                    7.5/30 
Part-time Day and Evening                                                              10/30                                                 

Evening Only                           )                                                        2.5/30
Adult Education Part-time Day )

By employing a denominator of 30 in conversion factors for part-time students it is likely that the OLB formula will discriminate against part-time students in FTE calculations. One presumes that the numerator values are an attempt to assess the hours spent by part-timers in the course of a week.

Some different conversion factors are suggested by Tarling for part-time students (See Reference 34). For the OLB factor of 1/4 for PTD students he prefers 1/5, for the OLB factor of 1/3 for PTDE students he prefers 1/4, and he replaces the OLB factor of 1/12 for evening only with a factor of x/360 for a single session, where x = the number of weeks of attendance and 360 is the number of sessions in a college year.

The DES has employed various conversion factors in its own calculations. For polytechnic buildings (See Reference 35), it employs the ratios of 2/9 for PTD, 1/3 for block release and zero for evening only. More appropriate for staffing purposes however are the conversion factors employed in the DES statistical reports (See Reference 36). In 1976-77 and before these were as follows: 1.0 for sandwich students, 0.25 for PTD
and 0.1 for evening only. However, in 1977-78 these were altered to 0.9 for sandwich students, 0.35 for PTD and 0.15 for evening only. The revised figure for PTD students is the highest conversion factor in any weighting scheme.

These different methods of calculating SSRs have been explained at length in order to demonstrate that there is no such thing as 'the SSR' of a college. The ratio found will thus be dependent on which method of calculation is used and also how it is applied, i.e. whether it is applied to the college as a whole, to faculty groups or to individual departments. Above all the method of counting FTE students affects the calculation of SSRs.

Once an SSR for a college has been determined by using whatever method the local education authority feels to be appropriate, the establishment of a college or its constituent departments can be calculated by dividing the total of FTE students in each category of work by the SSR figure agreed. The Burnham staff proportions may then be applied to give the gradings of post per each category of work. This method, while simple, is open to the serious objection that it will generate a similar number of staff in relation to Category I as in relation to Category V work. Few college principals would be agreeable to such an arrangement. In fact, it would clearly not be appropriate for a local education authority to apply an overall SSR to a college unless the work of that college was homogeneous. This might be the case in a college of higher education where the work is almost entirely advanced and where the subjects taught fall into the same faculty group, or in a college providing predominantly low level courses of general education. Where, however, a college contains work at both advanced and non-advanced levels it would be sensible to apply different SSRs in the same way as, for instance, many local education authorities apply differential PTRs to the main school and the sixth form sections of secondary schools. In colleges of further education an additional differential might be applied to take account of the laboratory or workshop basis of much of the work undertaken. In work of this type both safety regulations and work space considerations limit the level of SSR it is possible to apply.

Thus rather than apply would being an overall SSR to a college or to a group of colleges it would be feasible for a local education authority to apply four SSRs to its colleges:

(1)  for advanced level (i.e. Categories I-III) work in those subjects which are broadly laboratory or workshop based;

(2)  for advanced level work in those subjects which are more related to classroom teaching;

(3)  non-advanced level (i.e. Categories IV-V) work in those subjects which are broadly laboratory or workshop based; and

(4)  non-advanced level work in those subjects which are more related to classroom teaching.

With regard to the last of these four suggested areas, a local education authority might wish to apply a ratio similar to that agreed for sixth form PTRs in its secondary schools.

The application of these differing SSRs would overcome the objection that an establishment based on SSR would not reflect the varying levels of work; it would also permit work of a more practical nature to be more generously staffed. FTE students could then be calculated in respect of either the college as a whole or individual departments and divided by the appropriate SSRs to reach the total establishments for each of the four areas. The Burnham proportions could then be applied to produce the numbers of staff in each grade.

An obvious danger in the application of these differing SSRs is that colleges might thereby be encouraged to proliferate their courses in those areas where the ratio agreed was more generous. This possibility of distorted goals can, however, be avoided if an authority uses its customary power in the articles of government to determine the general educational character of maintained colleges. This power can be applied at committee level by careful control of new courses approved.

A further cause of concern in the use of SSRs to calculate staffing establishments is that the numbers of staff will thereby tend to increase in relation to the number of FTE students. Indeed, according to Pratt et al. it was this use of SSRs which has led to the failure of the further education sector to achieve economies of scale in the past two decades. However, as studies in other sectors of education indicate the numbers of staff
could be increased in teaching cost steps, i.e. only at points when the student numbers require the formation of extra classes (See Reference 37).  This approach to staffing infers that there is often considerable scope for class sizes to be increased and course hours to be trimmed before it is necessary for additional student numbers to be reflected in additional staff. Staffing by teaching cost steps is particularly relevant to the school sector where it is not possible for a local education authority to limit its pupil numbers. However, in the further education sector the application of budgetary ceilings and course controls should make SSRs a sufficient staffing mechanism without the need to resort to this additional complexity.

SSRs having been computed initially on basis of the actual numbers of FTE students and staff in its colleges, it is clear that the result so obtained would reflect only the historic situation and would not furnish a local education authority with any information as to what its targets should be. However, it would now be possible for an authority to set SSR targets and to fix an appropriate timescale for their achievement. If staffing economies were required, these might have to be phased over, say, two or three years, if redundancies were to be avoided. Staffing targets fixed following Annual Teaching Staff Reviews would be reflected in the staffing budgets approved by a local education authority for its FE colleges.

 d.  Class Size Ratio.

The final method of calculating the staffing establishments of colleges of further education to be considered is via the the Class Size Ratio (CSR). This is the method consistently advocated by the Further Education Teachers' Associations and put forward by the Teachers' Panel of CLEA/FE in 1977 in an attempt to achieve a national agreement in respect of the calculation of establishments.

In the paper which they presented to CLEA/FE the teachers representatives explained the need for this approach as follows:

'In the Panel's view a careful assessment of educational and administrative need for the academic year in question is essential in determining the staff complement. It is not desirable that solely economic or budgetary considerations should determine establishment sizes. Equally, a simplistic arithmetical approach related to student numbers which seeks to impose an inflexible ratio of staff to students is inappropriate within the public sector of post-school education, with its major concern for part-time students and their varied patterns of attendance developed to meet particular industrial and curricular needs. For this reason, any ratio used to determine the size and distribution of the establishment should relate in respect of its student input in the manner employed for the assessment of Burnham unit totals'.

In order to measure the relationship between student numbers and establishment sizes the teachers' representatives suggested the use of a Class Size Ratio (CSR) given by the following relationship:

Total Student Hours (TSH)                    
Total Available Teaching Hours (TATH)

Total Student Hours (TSH) would be as computed annually for Burnham unit totals' purposes(See Reference 38). For the purpose of the initial calculations the student hours would be the actual hours of the year taken as base; future use of the ratio would require projections of TSH for the forthcoming year. Total Available Teaching Hours (TATH) would be derived from the maximum class contact hours for each grade contained in the local conditions of service agreement. The Panel proposed the following as an exact definition:

'Number of Principal Lecturers x annual hours (weekly hours as above x 36) plus Number of Senior Lecturers x annual hours x Number of LIIs x annual hours plus Number of LIs x annual hours plus teaching hours of Heads of Departments plus total hours taught annually by part-time teachers less total hours remitted annually'.

The CSR therefore brings together elements from the Burnham (FE) Report and the CLEA/FE Conditions of Service agreement to produce data on which establishments could be based. What the teachers' representatives envisaged was the negotiation of a collective agreement with CLEA for a range of acceptable CSRs for all types of institution, on the basis of agreed bandwidths based on the results of a national survey to ascertain existing variations. The calculation of a college establishment would then be carried out as follows:

(a)  Calculate projected TSH for the coming year.

(b)  Total available teaching hours will then be given by applying the formula TATH = TSH/CSR.

(c)  Deduct from TATH the annual hours of work agreed for allocation to part-time hours.

(d)  Add the agreed remission of teaching hours (equivalent class contact hours) to give the number of hours available in respect of full-time teaching staff.

(e)  The number of teaching staff at each grade can then be determined by applying the local agreement in relation to the Burnham bandwidths for each category of work.

Once the CSR has been agreed for the college, the Teacher's Panel anticipated that it would apply to all future establishment calculations for that college. It might have to be recalculated from time to time to take account of any changes in the educational needs of students, e.g. in relation to the mix of the student population between full and part-timers and the number of students on courses with a strong laboratory/workshop base. This method of staffing no doubt appeals to the teachers' unions as a means of restricting the present ability of local education authorities to determine the average class sizes in their FE colleges, but for all its apparent simplicity this method has many shortcomings. If agreed CSR bands are based upon a national survey of the present situation then the agreement would almost certainly incorporate any unsatisfactory aspects of present staffing systems. These might include unduly small group sizes, discrimination against part-time students and over-provision of curricular hours on full-time courses. In adddition, a major fault of the CSR suggested is that by using the Burnham method for aggregating student hours (which counts hours in the college for F-T students, but only curricular hours for P-T students) it would put colleges with a large number of F-T students in a position to achieve a more favourable CSR than a college showing the same number of teaching hours but having more part-time students. It is also difficult to see how the matter of remitted hours can sensibly be addressed before the CSR is calculated, as it would seem appropriate to fix remission levels only after CSRs have been calculated.

If remitted hours are ignored for the purposes of calculating TATH, the ratio TSH/TATH would now generate the Staff Deployment Index, which would now enable an LEA to measure the number of student hours obtained per teaching contact hour for which it pays. As a monitoring device, a Staff Deployment Index has much value; in particular it would properly relate levels of remission to average class sizes. As a staffing mechanism it would be closely akin to the Staff grade/Student hour system described earlier.

To return to the proposals of the Teachers' Panel of CLEA/FE, it is not surprising to record that the response of the Management Panel was to state the view that college establishments were not a suitable subject for national negotiations and that employee rights were already sufficiently protected by Appendix IIA of the Burnham Report, the national agreement on Conditions of Service, and the Employment Protection and Employment Protection (Consolidation) Acts of 1975 and 1978. Indeed it is perhaps a general view of local education authorities that their freedom of action in relation to the resourcing of further education is already circumscribed. A further national agreement on class size would restrict even further LEAs room to manoeuvre, and could only be justified if it were possible to reach general agreement on ranges of class size in relation to different types of course. It is perhaps of significance to record that no similar agreement exists with regard to the school sectors. While CLEA has been sympathetic to the use of remisssion as a means of acknowledging additional duties and responsibilities, it is intended by LEAs that remission should be regarded as a flexible instrument and not a permanently fixed component in establishment calculations. For example, the introduction of TEC and BEC courses inevitably leads to a period of intense additional responsibility, which lessens subsequently. Any establishment calculation that sought to carry levels of remission over from one year to another automatically would be unacceptable to LEAs, who would be similarly reluctant to be constrained by binding agreements on CSRs.


                                                        PART  C



In allocating teaching staff to its further education establishments a local education authority is most likely to base its levels of provision on student numbers and the student workload thus created. (To this extent the staff grade/contact hour system may be seen as anomalous.) In distributing the staffing resources of the colleges internally to its constituent faculties or departments, the Principal may of course follow a similar approach. On the other hand, it may be argued that these resources would more effectively be distributed on the basis of the staff workload or teaching commitment of a department rather than on student numbers per se. While the detail required for such an approach is probably too cumbersome and complex for resourcing at the level of the local education authority, such information should be available to a college principal from the timetables of individual lecturers.

Various academic staffing formulae are discussed in an article by Birch and Calvert (1974)(See Reference 39). Of these the first is the most clearly based upon student workload considerations:

T = sh/gt .................................................................. (i)
where T = number of FTE staff
           s = number of FTE students
           g = average group size
           h = average curricular hours per week of FTE student
           t = average contact hours per week of FTE teacher.

From this formula it is possible, by rearrangement to express the SSR (i.e. s/T) as gt/h. It is likely that in determining the number of staff to be allocated to a department a collge principal will follow an SSR which he will have set in the light of that departments's individual circumstances. The above equation and the SSR associated with it are the basis of the Pooling Committee's recommendations on data collection and analysis of teacher resources for further education. They are also commonly used to evaluate the use of teaching resources in the schools sector. SSR +gt/h is the equivalent of PTR = CG, where C = contact ration of staff (i.e. the total number of lessons timetabled divided by the total number of lessons available, and G = average group size). In the context of further education, a college's educational policy may be said to be expressed by the parameters g, h and t above. While t is largely determined by Conditions of Service agreements between LEAs and teacher unions, decisions on g and h are matters for institutional management. Given the number of students (s) and decisions on g, h and t, the number of staff (T) for each department follows.

Birch and Calvert then describe further education staffing formulae of progressive complexity which are designed to calculate more accurately than the above formula the staff needs of a department in the light of its  actual teaching commitment. One feature of higher education which differentiates it from school teaching or non-advanced further education is the use of the formal lecture given to an indeterminate number of students. A formula, derived from the work of Bottomley et al., at Bradford University (See Reference 40), designed to distinguish between lectures and smaller group teaching, is as follows:

T = k + (sm/g) .....................................................................................(2)

where k = the number of teaching hours given in the form of straight lectures

and    m = the number of teaching hours given in the form of smaller group situations, e.g. seminars, tutorials.

These calculations would be performed separately for different levels of work, e.g. undergraduate and postgraduate. A further formula, developed by a research group at Lancaster University (See Reference 41),
takes account of lecture/seminar preparation time and 'post mortem' time  as well as hours spent actually teaching:

T = k (1 + p) + sm/g (1 + q/r) + su .......................................................(3)
where p = average preparation time per lecture per week

          q = average preparation time per seminar per week

          r = average number of seminar repeats per lecturer per week

   and u = average post mortem time per student per week.   

With regard to this formula, the research group involved encountered difficulties in collecting reliable data on preparation times and were obliged to concede that such estimates were a greater reflection of a lecturer's experience than his industry.

For internal purposes all these formulae have certain advantages. Staffing by equation (1), the SSR method, will enable departmental differences to be reflected in levels of g, h, and t, and bring out the fact that staffing economies may be effected by increasing average group size or teaching load, or by decreasing tuition load of students. The difficulty with staffing by SSRs is, as has been noted earlier, that it ensures that an increase in students is automatically followed by a proportionate increase in staff. The more sophisticated formula (2) suggests that the determinant for allocation of staff should be the timetabled teaching commitment. In this model, an increase in students would not necessarily require a proportionate increase in staff. Bottomley et al.'s study at Bradford University found that economies of scale had been achieved in ten of the courses which they examined largely by increased use of the straight lecture.

In the context of further education, academic staffing formulae based on teaching commitment, probably have less applicability than in the universities, for which they were mainly devised. The straight lecture is commonly used in most colleges of FE, although more use might be made of it in degree courses at polytechnics and colleges of higher education, while preparation and 'post mortem' time is in practice already determined by Conditions of Service agreements. However, such formulae do serve to indicate to college principals the possibilities that may exist to achieve economies by a variation of the teaching media employed.

With regard to all of the academic staffing formulae discussed above, Birch and Calvert sum up by stating that:

'There is no doubt that the formulae highlight some of the economic consequences of particular learning and teaching strategies so far as these are reflected in the pattern and sizes of formal time-tabled meetings, and teaching and tuition loads'.

However, they go on to point out that what such essentially quantitative approaches to teaching commitment do not reveal is what effect staffing economies may have on the quality of the learning process, as measured by examination results, wastage rates and the future employability and earning power of students, and to ask how far the quality of education would have to be maintained by increasing expenditure on library spaces, and educational technology, both hardware and software. They also discuss the possibilities of substituting 'student initiative' for 'teacher supervision', i.e. the teacher acts as an 'educational guide and consultant' rather than a lecturer. While this more 'active' approach on the part of the student might prove more educationally effective they point out that, while the preparation of pre-structured learning materials might change the role of teachers, it would not necessarily lead to staff savings.

In arguments reminiscent of Pratt et al., Birch and Calvert observe that staffing formulae can only ever produce 'partial answers' in the process of resource distribution:

'Plainly academic staffing formulae will only give us partial answers since they are concerned with only part of 
the system in the short run .... they take one input, academic staff, and then via an analysis of parts of the process (i.e. the pattern and sizes of timetabled meetings) they determine a second input, student places which is then implicitly defined as an output. They ignore the trade-offs between academic staff, on the one hand, and the other inputs - technician and administrative support, space and equipment, on the other ... '

However, to the extent that academic staffing formulae are used for internal distribution of staff within colleges, Birch and Calvert believe the teacher commitment a dangerous one, because it might encourage a tendency for departments to set up courses which would make maximum use of staffing inputs. They feel that SSRs are a more satisfactory means of internal allocation, because, as in the future SSRs are likely to become less favourable, such a method is more likely to encourage the search for alternative ways of achieving the same educational objectives than an allocation system based on teacher commitment. However, they do see such teacher commitment staffing models useful as 'situation analysis tools' enabling heads of department to calculate the consequences of different patterns of timetabled activities.


Crispin (1974) (See Reference 42) takes issue with the general conclusions of Birch and Calvert in an article in which he seeks to prove the superiority of the teaching commitment or staff workload staffing model over student number orientated calculations. Perhaps one conclusion which may be drawn from his article is the essential difficulty of drawing a firm distinction between the two approaches. Crispin describes two student number methods employed at Sheffield and Aston Universities. Although these schemes are basically student number orientated, they ensure that small departments have a relatively generous staffing provision. To this extent, they are clearly influenced by staff workload considerations. Crispin also discusses the first of Birch and Calvert's staffing formulae in terms of a teaching commitment model. As it is based upon the curricular hours of students rather than their actual numbers  and incorporates a divisor representing average group size, this is reasonable; however, to the extent that this model ignores patterns of timetabled activities, e.g. opportunities for lectures, it may justifiably be seen as an example of the student workload approach.

In seeking to demonstrate the advantages of teaching commitment model, Crispin explains the method of internal staff allocation devised at one university. This method is related to staff workload to the extent that staffing credited to departments is, up to a certain level, independent of the number of students. In this example one teaching activity only, lecturing, is considered. If the number of undergraduate students attending is 35 or less, each lecture is credited with one staffing unit; if the number of students is more than 35, then units  credited are 0.005s + 0.825, where s = number of students. In the case of postgraduates, 35 students or less would generate 1.5 units, and where s = more than 35 then units credited are 0.005s + 1.325. While this system was intended to apply to a university, the distinction between postgraduate and undergraduate courses could be parallelled at a college of FE by advanced and non-advanced levels of work. While Crispin's example refers to lecturing, the method of allocation would appear to apply to other types of teaching activity more commonly associated with technical colleges, e.g. classes, laboratory work, short courses, although the appropriate data would need to be adjusted for each activity. According to Crispin, this method of resourcing has a number of definite advantages. He believes that it would tend to encourage large lecture numbers either through a combination of groups or by increasing the intake, but at the same time it takes into account the contact hours of lecturers, thus linking resources to efforts. At the same time, however, it would aid small or new departments by the application of an initial constant unit independent of student numbers. A potential disadvantage of this model is, as Crispin acknowledges, that it may 'be manipulated by the simple expedient of splitting a group of 30 students (1 unit) into three groups of 10 (3 units). Thus it exemplifies the alleged main charge against staff workload schemes, that of overprovision.

Crispin, however, in reviewing the whole question of overprovision in relation to teaching commitment schemes of staff allocation, concludes that this danger is overrated. It is, as has already been indicated earlier, very difficult to increase provision to part-time students in order to boost the number of staff in post or the grading of posts, while, even with full-time students, factors such as availability of staff and accommodation put clear limits on the level of overprovision that is conceivable. With regard to the alleged tendency of teaching commitment models to cause a proliferation of small teaching groups, one must acknowledge that some real danger does exist, but even here, as Crispin points out, the constraints of staff and premises apply as before. Furthermore, he suggests that the danger of proliferation, if seen to exist in a college, could, in respect of his university-based example above, be corrected by the device of allocating a greater level of units to number of students in a teaching group above 35. As Crispin states 'this would probably dampen the tendency to subdivide since it ensures a much reduced net gain in credit units which be judged to be insufficient reward for committing additional scarce staff'.
With regard to Birch and Calvert's comment that academic staffing formulae 'ignore trade-offs between academic staff and other inputs', Crispin agrees but correctly adds that this observation applies equally to both student-number orientated and teaching commitment schemes. Indeed, this is only one example of confusion in Birch and Calvert's article. Another is their stated preference for 'a straight head count grouped under appropriate headings - full-time, sandwich, part-time day and so on' rather than the calculation of FTEs. It is totally unclear how a straight head count of this nature could lead either to a method of allocating staff or to a means of comparing institutions or departments.

Since the appearance of the two articles under discussion, the overall resource position of further education has, as Birch and Calvert correctly foresaw, undergone a considerable change in view of the restraints on public expenditure, in particular those that have been in force since 1976. The imposition of ceilings on local authority and college budgets has caused the prospect of increasing expenditure on staffing to recede. The danger is no longer uneconomic and unjustified increases in staffing budgets but an uneconomic and educationally unsound use of the resources still available. From an economic viewpoint, Birch and Calvert rightly believe that SSR 'remains a simple and effective mechanism for achieving savings in academic staff'. However, they are primarily concerned with the allocation of teaching resources by central bodies, i.e. the University Grants Committee, the Advanced FE Pool and LEAs, whereas Crispin's article is more concerned with the means of distributing such resources within institutions. At the level of the institution one must endorse Crispin's reservation concerning the application of quantitative analysis, e.g. SSRs, 'without some overriding qualitative judgments'. The type of teaching commitment model that he describes is appropriate for internal resource allocation in colleges of further education in that it relates on educational grounds the patterns of timetabled activities to the particular enterprises of the institution. Of course teaching commitment models require some element of qualitative and subjective judgement, but it is precisely the making of such judgments in relation to educational goals that one may expect from the academic authorities of a college.


In August 1972 the Pooling Committee issued a memorandum concerning staffing resources for advanced further education in polytechnics, colleges of further education and art colleges. The Memorandum recommended to local authority associations the adoption of two main groups of faculties or departments, the establishment  of SSR range norms for each faculty group, and a procedure for calculating FTE students and staff. Behind these recommendations can be detected a desire not only to stabilise the expenditure incurred by the AFE Pool but also to ensure a cost-effective use of resources and an equitable distribution of resources to the maintaining authorities. The specific recommendations were based on an initial cost study undertaken in 1970 covering advanced work only.

The main faculty groupings were as follows:

Group 1 - comprising those faculties which are broadly laboratory, workshop or studio based;

Group 2 - comprising those faculties which are more related to classroom teaching.

Group I faculties were to include Technology and Engineering, Science and Applied Science, Health, Art and Design, and Vocational Studies (Architecture and Town Planning only), while Group 2 faculties were to include Social, Administrative and Business Studies, Education, Languages, Arts and other Vocational Studies (e.g. Catering, Transport). For each of the two faculty groups, the Memorandum recommended target SSR norm bands:

Faculty Group                                                                         Target SSR Bands                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   
Group 1                                                                                       7.5 - 8.5
Group 2                                                                                       9.2 -10.2                                       

The lowest point of each band represented the norm position indicated in the 1970 study. The Pooling Committe, however,  felt that by 1976 colleges should be aiming to achieve ratios in the top half of  the appropriate bands. 

The Pooling Committee's recommended method of calculating student and staff FTEs for advanced level work has already been examined in Part B 3 c of this dissertation. In 1973 it was subjected to a considered critique by D.J. Brown (See Reference 43), who finds fault with its recommendations in relation to general procedures, FTE student calculations (in particular) and FTE staff calculations. In all cases Brown believes that 'The degree of flexibility allowed in the calculations effectively mitigates against the achievement of the objectives of the Memorandum'. Brown's point is well illustrated by the general procedure to be adopted in calculating FTEs. The overall SSR can be obtained, according to the Memorandum either by 'aggregating the separate calculations in each department/faculty forming the group' or by a single calculation 'that takes into account the total numbers in the departments/faculties forming the group'.

In spite of the fact that the two methods will render different results, the Memorandum declares that 'The method to be adopted should be the one that seems to the authority and the college, the most appropriate and convenient in the circumstances of the establishment concerned'. In circumstances where resources for AFE are to be distributed nationally according to a formula in which FTEs are a variable, via SSRs, Brown feels it to be unsatisfactory that such calculations can be manipulated at the level of colleges or departments.

In considering the Memorandum's approach to the the calculation of FTE students, Brown discusses the ambiguities that stem from the formula of dividing total student hours by the 'average number of hours of a typical student following a normal full-time course in the constituent departments'. The latter parameter can be calculated either by comparing each part-time course with the nearest full-time course in the faculty group or to determine a figure for a 'normalised' full-time course. As Brown demonstrates, neither method is fully satisfactory owing primarily to the enormous fluctuations in course hours between colleges, departments, courses and course years. A more serious source of difficulty, however, is that the basis measure of FTE students is dependent upon timetabled curricular hours. As such hours vary considerably, it is difficult to see how  they can form the basis for any equitable comparisons. Indeed such is the complexity of the position that any global SSR target is likely to be seriously discriminatory to certain colleges, departments or courses. The use of curricular hours in the calculation also helps to counteract the higher SSR targets for departments in Faculty Group 2. As Brown puts it:

'In general, part-time courses have between 6-9 hours depending upon whether attendance is over two or three sessions per day, irrespective of departmental grouping. However full-time courses in Group 1 departments average between 18 and 24 compared with 12 and 16 for Group 2 departments. The basic difference between the two groups results in higher conversion factors in Group 2 departments and consequently numerically larger FTEs'.

While basing FTEs of students upon curricular hours does have the merit of reducing disparities between resources credited for full-time and part-time students, one must acknowledge the superficiality of this approach in any comprehensive monitoring of teaching resources. Indeed this issue highlights the essential difficulty of isolating teaching resources from the other inputs of the educational process.

In view of these difficulties, Brown's suggestion that consideration be given to the idea of basing conversion factors for part-time students on the time taken by a student to complete a part-time course is an interesting one. It is simple and, like the Pratt 'graduate/staff' ratio discussed earlier, it shows that time is a variable input.  However, whether such a formula would relate well to the question of teaching workload is dubious. While it might be possible for a part-time student to complete in two years a course which only occupies a full-time student for one, this might imply a greater effort on behalf of the part-time student than upon the lecturing staff of the college, whether staff workload be measured in terms of contact hours or otherwise. Indeed this may well be a case where use of alternative resources to teaching staff, e.g. libraries, is very apposite. In such circumstances, therefore, it might be difficult to demonstrate that the part-time student should be rated as 0.5 FTE for each year of his course. In addition, one suspects that Brown's suggestion would not be easy to apply to further education courses, many of which are designed primarily as part-time (e.g. national certificates, City and Guils craft certificates) and have no obvious full-time counterparts.

Finally, Brown discusses the Pooling Committee's suggestions for calculating FTE staff and highlights the difficulty of of determining what fraction of a FTE to count lecturers engaged in some non-advanced level work. The Memorandum requires that the fraction appropriate should be based upon the proportion of a lecturer's con tact hours spent on advanced level work. Brown once more questions the applicability of measures based solely on teaching hours. 


Shortly after the issue of the'Memorandum on Student/Staff Ratios', the Pooling Committee published in November 1972 a document entitled 'Assessment of curricular activity and utilisation of staff resources in polytechnics and FE colleges', in order to 'guide' colleges in methods of compiling and presenting information. its content was primarily the work of V.J. Delany of the DES Financial Services Branch (See Reference 44), whose thinking had clearly influenced the earlier Memorandum. This 'Guide', as it has been called to distinguish it from the Memorandum with which it has sometimes been confused, had management information as a main concern, and to this extent some of its content is outside the scope of this dissertation (See Reference 45). However, its sections on student/staff ratios and associated concepts are relevant. With regard to SSRs the 'Guide' states:

'The level of any SSR is the result of the inter-action of a number of different factors of which three in particular exercise the major influence. These factors are associated with the volume of the curriculum, the deployment of the staff and the sizes of the teaching groups in which the teaching or supervision is carried out'.

The Curriculum Volume Factor (CVF) is expressed in terms of Average Student Taught Hours (ASH), the  Staf Deployment Factor (SDF) is expressed in terms of terms of Average Lecturer Teaching Hours (ALH), and the third factor, the Average Class Size (ACS), which has already been defined in Part B. 2.e. above, represents total student curricular hours  divided by total  staff contact hours. These factors can express actual or expect levels of peformance; in the latter case they are targets or norms.

The three factors are expressed in the 'Guide' in a formula which produces a SSR:


which is of course identical to that derived from the first of the academic staffing formulae of Birch and Calvert, as considered above. Following Delany, the Pooling Committee in its 'Report on Monitoring of Student/Staff Ratios in 1978' describes these three factors as 'Cost efficiency indicators'. The section of the 1972 'Guide' concerned with 'Management Information and Analyses' lists four ways in which these cost efficiency indicators may be used by colleges or comparisons:

'(i)  the actual situation between the the different levels of work in the same department, faculty or faculty/department group;

(ii)  the actual situation between the same levels of work in different departments, faculties or faculty/department group;

(iii)  differences over time as regards (i) and (ii);

(iv)  any marked imbalances between the various factors themselves that might justify further examination'.

While the same SSR is obtainable from various combinations of these three factors at different values for each, an examination of the balance between them will enable educational judgments to be made with regard to the soundness of the current situation.

The 'Guide' then goes on to suggest that the difference, in respect of these factors, between the present or actual position and any standard or norm value that may be laid down as part of the forward planning process could be measured by a variance analysis. Variances for all three factors were calculated so that deviations from the norms were shown either in respect of FTE staff with FTE students as the constant factor or FTE students with FTE staff as the constant factor. In cost terms, a minus variance for lecturers was favourable, whereas it was unfavourable for students.

Delany's view of the SSR factors as cost efficiency indicators, possibly leading to the establishment of norms for management purposes is supported by Birch and Parkes (1972) in the article to which reference has been made above in Part B. 1. f., and in which they suggest that the operational objectives of a college should be to maximise student hours, enrolments and attendance rates. In this article they write as follows:

'An objective of the maximisation of student hours will be pursued by a college against a backcloth of constraints - the inflexibility of the buildings, the strategy of its local authority, the policy of the DES and so on. Arguably one of the most important of these will be the cost per student. Information on the precise cost structures of colleges is hard to come by, and even if it were available unit cost comparisons over time would be bugged by the problem of inflation. What is certain is that teachers' salaries account for between 50 and 60% of the annual expenditure of a college. We concentrate on this particular expense and examine some of the factors which determine its level'.

Birch and Parkes agree with Delany that the level of staff requirement in a college may usefully be expressed in the following formula:

FTE staff = FTE students x ASH
                         ACS         ALH               

They argue that if ACS, ASH and ALH remain constant, then any increase in the number of FTE staff will be in direct proportion to an increase in the number of FTE students. If either ACS or ALH increases, then a rise in FTE student numbers will imply a less than proportionate rise in FTE staff and thus average academic staff costs will have been reduced. From the cost viewpoint, constant average costs are a minimum standard to be sought and a position of decreasing average costs is desirable. Birch and Parkes conclude:

'Consequently to our objective of the maximisation of student hours. enrolments and attendance rates we can now add the proviso that the staff/student ratio is maintained at least constant, ....... '


The publication of the Pooling Committee's ratio bands for AFE and the so-called 'Delany norms' which followed them not only attracted considerable controversy at the time but have continued to attract sustained criticism, mainly from associates of the Centre for Institutional Studies at North-East London Polytechnic (See Reference 46). The most obvious criticism which can be made is a conceptual one. It is clearly fallacious to maintain that the SSR is the result of the interaction of three factors, namely curriculum volume, staff deployment and average class size. It is in fact the number of students divided by the number of staff. The so-called 'cost efficiency indicators' of the Pooling Committee are not determinants of SSRs but rather reflect the way in which staffing resources are deployed in relation to the student body. In 1972 at a relatively buoyant economic time when real educational expenditure was continuing to rise it was possible to see SSRs in Delany's terms, but at the present time, when economic constraints have led progressively to static educational budgets, cash limits on local government expenditure, the imposition of an arbitrary SSR target of 10:1 for AFE and the 'capping' of the AFE Pool, this view is no longer meaningful.

Other criticisms of Delany's work focus primarily upon two aspects: firstly, the way, in which both the Memorandum and the 'Guide' ignore the serious difficulties inherent in achieving and applying the calculations which they recommend, and secondly the failure to relate SSRs to educational objectives.

With regard to the calculations recommended by Delany, criticisms include the following observations. There is no reference in these publications to the difficulties of converting part-time students into full-time equivalents or of the wide range of interpretations involved in using curricular hours as a measure. The notion of 'supervision' may be seen as particularly ambiguous in this respect. The different ways in which the data may be calculated make overall comparisons between colleges highly suspect. The same criticism applies to the production of norms. SSRs based upon curricular hours will disguise very different patterns of teaching, demanding very different levels of resources. Average class size when applied to a college overall will not reflect enormous differences across departments and courses, and the staff deployment is concerned solely with the number of timetabled hours rather than their cost. Finally it may be observed that, while the 1972 documents see SSRs as an overall cost efficiency indicator, recoupment for the AFE Pool continues to be based upon the timetabled contact hours of staff.

A more significant criticism, perhaps, is the alleged failure of the Pooling Committee's documents to take account of qualitative questions. Indeed the quantitative analysis of the 'Guide' appears to presuppose that the objectives of a college and the extent to which they are achieved are constant factors on which no debate is required. There is no discussion of how to evaluate the educational experience of students at college in relation to the resources expended. The Pool's use of staff contact hours as a measure of resource need, presumably because it can be easily calculated, ignores completely the realisation that teaching hours are only one of the inputs available in the educational process.

Thus Pratt et al. concude:

'The calculations of SSRs and comparisons thus made fail to discuss what colleges are for or how best they may achieve their objectives or what indicators of staffing may best assist them ... So far as one can see, staff/student ratios may not even figure as as an indicator of educational or even of administrative progress. No such considerations appear to guide either the Pooling Committee or the local authority associations. What exists is an administrative exercise, devised by administrators, for the benefit of administrators' (See Reference 47).

The journalistic strictures of Pratt et al. , while tending as usual to overstate their case, are a little unfair. As a consequence of social and economic factors, the further education sector has had to reappraise both its policies and its systems of management information. In this context, measures and indicators are being sought which will help to achieve in a cost effective way the objectives of the education service. Such indicators or guides are essential to institutions lacking unlimited resources, and so long as their  usefulness is not over-estimated they can do little harm. This is no doubt the case at college level where senior academic staff are all too well aware of the likely relationship between performance and resource levels.

However, in the resource process at national and local authority levels norms based upon quantitative analysis alone may be dangerous. As might have been expected, the flexibility recommended in the Pooling Committee's Memorandum was swiftly ignored by government. As early as 1972 a white paper was referring to a future 10:1 SSR target for AFE and in 1976 the local authority associations advised LEAs that colleges should, in respect of AFE, achieve this target by 1980. The lack of flexibility here suggests that this target is indeed a Procrustean device for achieving economies without regard to educational objectives. Nor is it clear how the 10:1 figure was derived; one assumes it is a 'mishmash' combination of the 1972 ratio bands with a somewhat less favourable standard applied in the interests of economy. What is certain, however, is that educational administrators, desperate to apply or to justify savings, will cling like limpets to such targets. Furthermore, it is likely that they will be applied across the board, ignoring differences in character of individual colleges, any adverse effects on educational performance or 'trade-offs' against other items of expenditure. While this SSR target applies to AFE, there is, of course, nothing to stop LEAs adopting similar approaches in relation to NAFE as well. On balance the warnings of Pratt et al. seem justified.

By way of alternatives to the Pooling Committee analysis, Brown suggests that an approach by 'courses' would be more helpful. He suggests that data could be collated and norms produced for different courses or groups of courses. These could be defined by level, mode of attendance and subject. Such information would be of more use to both LEAs and colleges than overall averages for colleges or faculty groups. Brown also suggests that measuring techniques should be designed in relation to future rather than past patterns and to enable the monitoring of progress in relation to educational objectives. These ideas are attractive but they would clearly require a more positive and detailed approach from LEAs and their officers to the resource process.



While the purpose of this dissertation has been to consider and discuss the issues involved in the resourcing of further education colleges rather than to prescribe solutions, the author has been unable to avoid coming to certain provisional conclusions. Some of these are suggested below:

1.  The DES should require development plans from LEAs under Section 42 of the 1944 Education Act.

2.  In their allocation of resources to FE Colleges, LEAs should follow a 'problem budgeting' approach, i.e. resource provision would be guided by the extent to which a college was seeking to achieve the aims of the LEA.

3.  Volume of work for the purpose of salary grades should be related to the numbers of FTE students rather than staff contact or student hours.

4.  FTE students should be calculated by 'bodies' using conversion factors which are sensitive to the workload created by part-time students.

5.  Resource allocations by LEAs to FE colleges should reflect the possibilities of 'trade-offs' between different inputs; hence, virement across budget headings would be desirable.

6.  However, in view of the continuing financial commitments involved in the appointments of full-time staff, ceiling on staffing budgets should continue to be imposed.

7.  The TSE of a college should be calculated by SSRs which should differ by departments according to a) level of work, and b) faculty group.

8.  These SSRs should be based not only upon the historical position but on agreed future objectives.

9.  Within colleges, staff allocation should be agreed not on inflexible SSRs but in relation to educational strategies agreed between principals and heads of department. Teaching commitment models, encouraging efficient use of resources but protecting areas of special need, are relevant here.

10.  LEAs should be responsible for both the finance and provision of AFE in their colleges.

11.  The AFE Pool should be abolished. Inter-authority payments should be made by recoupment on the basis of standard costs but with a higher proportion of costs than at present and any regional surcharges coming from tuition fees financed through mandatory student awards.

12.  All full-time AFE courses should attract mandatory student awards.

13.  Ways of monitoring student awards should be devised in relation to a) educational objectives and b) levels of resources.


1.  P. Lewis and R. Allemano, 'Fact and fiction about the Pool', Higher Education Review IV2 (1972).

2.  J. Pratt, T.Travers and T. Burgess, 'Costs and Control in Further Education', NFER (1978) pp. 121-3. See also J. Pratt, 'Pooling: Some revised conclusions', Higher Education Review VIII2 (1976).

3.  See The Chatered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy 'Educational Actuals Statistics 1977/78' (1979).

4.  See DES 'Statistics of Education, 1977: Volume 5, Finance and Awards (1979)', p. 26.

5.  'Output budgeting for the Department of Education and Science', Education Planning Paper No.1, HMSO (1970).

6.  Pratt et al. ibid. p.157.

7.  For instance, if full-time equivalent students are calculated on the basis of curricular hours, courses involving less teacher contact time (i.e. where there is no laboratory supervision required or much work is undertaken through guided private assignments in the library) will appear less economical when in fact they are more economical.

8.  Pratt et al. ibid. p. 158-9.

9.  Pratt et al. ibid p.159. They are clearly postulating for both firm and college the classic 'black box' model of an open system, i.e. the transformation of inputs through processing subsystems into outputs. With regard to inputs they do not make a distinction here between 'operands' (those inputs which are to be processed) and 'operators' (those inputs which are to do the processing).

10.  Pratt et al. ibid. p. 170.

11.  P. Lewis, 'The opportunity of costs', Centre for Institutional Studies (1972).

12.  Pratt et al. ibid. see figure 2, p. 167.

13.  Pratt et al. ibid. p. 187. While they do not give the source of these figures, they are clearly derived from the DES Statistics series. It is clear from the table of unit costs published on p. 25 of the 1977 set, Volume 5 (see Reference 4 above) that this sharp rise in unit costs was a result of the founding of the polytechnics. While the unit cost of advanced FE was £1,610 in 1967-8, it was £2,380 in polytechnics in 1973-4, but only £1,540 in other establishments of FE in the same year (Prices as of November 1977).

14.  See A. Bottomley and R.K. Khanna, 'Costs and returns on graduates at the University of Bradford', in 'Accounting and Business Research' No. 1 (1970) and D. Verry and B. Davies, 'University costs and outputs', Elsevier (1976).

15.  Clare Burstall, 'Time to mend the nets', a commentary on the outcomes of class-size research', Trends 1979/3.

16.  See A. Crispin in article mentioned at reference 42 below.

17.  B.D. Cullen, 'Lesson from class-size research - an economist's perspective', Trends 1979/4.

18.  D.W. Birch and D.L. Parkes, 'Towards an objective and some criteria of success in further education', Higher Education Review, IV3 (1972).

19.  Pratt et al. ibid. p. 212-3.

20.  See DES 'Scales of Salaries for Teachers in Establishments for Further Education, England and Wales 1979, HMSO (1980).

21.  Ibid. Appendix IIA Part 1 para 3.

22.  Ibid Appendix IIA Part 1 para 1.

23.  Ibid. Appendix IIA Part III para 2(v).

24.  Ibid. Appendix IIA Part III para 2(v).

25.  'Report on the Size of Classes and Approval of Courses', National Advisory Council on Education for Industry and Commerce (1965).

26.  'Assessment of curricular activity and utilisation of staff resources in Polytechnics in and FE Colleges', Councils and Education Press (1971).

27.  Norma Whittaker, 'Resource Allocation to Non-advanced Further Education Colleges: some current problems facing local education authorities', an unpublished MA dissertation at University of London (1976).

28.  Pratt et al. ibid. p. 105.

29.  Pratt et al. ibid. p. 106.

30.  Whittaker ibid. See also N. Whittaker, 'The allocation of resources and the monitoring of their use', in 'Use of Resources in College Management', Coombe Lodge Report Volume 11, No 11 (1978).

31.  Sam Tarling, 'Academic and Non-Academic staffing in Colleges of Further Education', in 'Current developments in Further Education', Coombe Lodge Report Volume 11, No. 11 (1978).

32.  Whittaker ibid.

33.  Whittaker ibid.

34.  Tarling ibid.

35.  DES, 'Notes on Procedures for the Approval of Polytechnic Projects' (1971).

36.  DES 'Statistics of Education 1977': Volume 5, Finance and Awards (1979) note 10.

37.  See especially P.C. Webb, 'Teaching Cost Models for Sixth Forms', Education Policy Bulletin Volume 7, Number 1.

38.  They would thus include the private study time in college of full-time students.

39.  D.W. Birch and J.R. Calvert, 'Review of Academic Staffing Formulae', Educational Administration Bulletin, Autumn 1974.

40.  J.A. Bottomley et al., 'Costs and potential economies', CERI - OECD, Paris (1971).

41.  M.G. Simpson et al., 'Planning university development', CERI - OECD, Paris (1971). staffing schemes

42.  A. Crispin, 'Academic staffing schemes reconsidered', Educational Administration Bulletin, Summer 1975.

43.  D.J. Brown, 'Resources in advanced FE - a critique of the Pooling Committee's work, 'Higher Education Review V3 (1973).

44.  For other publications of V.J. Delany, see 'Cost Efficiency Indicators in Further Education', ACFHE (1971); 'The Contribution of Management Accounting to Decision Making in Education', Management Accounting (January 1976); 'Decision Making in Higher Education', Management Accounting (November 1976); 'Exploring Data Patterns in Further Education', ACFHE (1979).

45.  On this subject see in particular Derek Birch, 'An overview of Management Information Systems in Educational Institutions' in 'Use of Resources in College Management', Coombe Lodge Report, Volume 11, Number 11 (1978).

46.  Apart from Pratt et al. ibid pp. 147-51, see J, Pratt, 'Management in Further Education', Higher Education Review V1 (1972) and D.J. Brown ibid.

47.  Pratt et al. ibid. p. 150.
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