Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Good and bad news about the college sector and its financial health

The fog may be clearing after last week's Spending Review - or at least being displaced by new fog.

This week’s Times Education Supplement suggested that the £500 savings on Education Maintenance Allowances would be recycled into 16-18 funding. However, it raised doubts over whether this would be sufficient to fully fund the increase in the participation age aka “the school-leaving age”. The former Department for Children, Schools and Families estimated the cost would be £774 million, while the education economist Professor Alison Wolf has estimated that the figure might be £1.5 billion.

The TES article reported that George Osborne had promised that the 16-18 budget would increase in real terms although it would be spread over greater numbers of students.

Yesterday’s Financial Times had more depressing news for general FE colleges. It highlighted government estimates that deep cuts would lead to three-quarters of FE colleges becoming “financially inadequate”. The government now hopes that plans for increased fees – with more student support via loans – will ease the pain. The proposed framework parallels the Browne proposals for higher education and builds on the report by Christopher Banks which proposed greater co-payment in further education.

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