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Inadequate broadband in 80% of UK Further Education colleges

Further education [FE] in the UK is suffering from derisory broadband connections with 80 per cent of all colleges relying on just a single connection for the entire institution.

Skills minister Matthew Hancock laid bare the fact that eight of every 10 colleges relies on a single connection that will leave the location without a connection if it goes down with the government expected to pump cash into the sector.

“As many as eight out of 10 colleges are relying on a single connection, for both their operational and teaching needs - including cloud-based applications and online business. It's easy to imagine what happens if that connection goes down. That's why I'm allocating extra funds to allow colleges to install a second broadband connection - giving them greater ability to operate and support their students with the latest technology 24/7,” Hancock said, according to

Hancock, speaking at the Association of Colleges [AoC] 2013 conference, stated the improvements are a “top priority” for his department and that providing a second connection in FE locations was at the top of the list.

The Department for Business [BIS] explained that the “scope and timetable of the programme” has yet to be finalised and Hancock added that colleges will be assisted to make sure existing bandwidth is utilised in the best way possible.

Help in this facet will come from Jisc, a charity that helps to advance improvements in digital technologies in education and research.

Hancock’s words came at the same time as two further announcements that will help the FE sector. Ministers announced that £232.7 million has been earmarked to revamp 50 such colleges and that it will be matched with £250 million of their own money the make the total fund worth almost half a billion pounds.

Secondly, Dr David Collins was appointed to the new post of Further Education Commissioner, where he will be responsible for acting to assist failing FE colleges.

Image Credit: Flickr (DavidDMuir)