The Welsh Assembly Government (WAG) continues to underfund education colleges’ facilities despite continuous warning that this perpetuates the disadvantages of Welsh learners, warns fforwm, the association of colleges in Wales.
John Graystone, chief executive of fforwm, which represents all 25 FE colleges and institutions in Wales, said: "Colleges in Wales are falling well behind colleges in other parts of the UK, undermining the ambition set out in WAG’s own successive Learning Country policy documents of developing a world-class education system."
On Tuesday, the WAG Minister Jane Hutt unveiled a capital funding allocation of £30.2 million over three years to eight FE colleges. However, fforwm believes the move is nowhere near the £50 million that is required per year for at least the next five years to bring Welsh FE colleges in line with the rest of the UK.
According to a report by Sir Adrian Webb, which was commissioned by the WAG, current funding for FE capital in Wales is "less than three per cent of that in England". The report also notes: "In Wales, there is backlog maintenance for the sector of £92 million and it would cost in the region of a further £200 million to upgrade the high proportion of accommodation categorised as poor."
Mr Graystone concluded: "We very much hope WAG will give serious consideration to bringing college facilities up to world class standards. This would be in line with other UK nations, and would be in keeping with the WAG’s own policy documents as well as the author of the report on FE that the WAG itself commissioned. Colleges in Wales should not have to languish as the least supported in the UK. College learners in Wales should not put under such a disadvantage compared to their counterparts across the UK."