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Further education capacity challenge is ‘real, urgent and complex’, warns LTE Group

Further education capacity challenge is ‘real, urgent and complex’, warns LTE Group

LTE Group has welcomed a new report by the Association of Colleges, which highlights the urgent need for additional 16-18 college places to be created in order to meet growing demand.

Analysis commissioned by the AoC has found that the number of students seeking higher education places across England will increase by 150,000 by 2030. The AoC report argues that this demographic shift must be a catalyst for creating more opportunities in technical education routes through greater investment.

Last September, because of increased demand, more than 200 students were put on a waiting list for a place at The Manchester College – part of the LTE Group. The number of first choice applications for 16-18 year olds has increased yet again by 148% for September 2024, and based on the most conservative population growth 2025 forecasts, the shortfall in 16-18 places at the College will reach more than 400 in two years’ time and almost in 600 in 2029. When adult student numbers are factored in, the waiting list figures are expected to rise by a further 36%; if demand from across Greater Manchester for specialist courses is also factored in, the shortfall could be more than 1,000.

John Thornhill, Chief Executive of LTE Group, said:

“The capacity challenge is real, urgent and complex and has significant implications for the City of Manchester and Greater Manchester.

“We have invested more than £100m into overhauling our estates in recent years to the provide high-quality facilities which the young people from across Greater Manchester deserve. Yet there is a major structural flaw in the approach to place planning for post-16 education and skills: in further education the government asks providers to part fund from their own budgets the need for new places driven by population growth. We are calling on commissioners and funders to provide the capital funding needed to allow us to meet the demand for places in the community we serve.”

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