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Well youve heard it. An extra £14 Billion in spending in education over the next 3 years. More money for apprenticeships, with a a 500,000 target. Training Allowance for 50,000 16-17 year olds. £2,000 - £3,000 for SMEs who provide Basic Skills training. Education up to 18 years old. Student Debt sell off. It all happened. Not the best day for our old editor to leave, especially whilst we still looking for a replacement.

So what did the industry think of the Brown Budget? Did they think of Golden Brown or something that is Brown and smelly?

First up is the AoC. Commenting on Gordon Brown's new education spending commitments Chief Executive of the Association of Colleges, John Brennan, said:

"We are delighted that the Chancellor has announced another generous funding package for education. This decision reflects the need to ensure all young people and adults are equipped with the necessary skills to maintain Britain's prosperity well into the 21st century.

"We were particularly pleased to hear Mr Brown announce that the Government will be consulting on ensuring all young people stay in education or training until they are 18. Colleges strongly support this ambition and will be the vital factor in ensuring it becomes a reality.

"This new commitment for young people is accompanied by a long-term pledge to ensure adults" skills requirements are met, as recommended by Lord Leitch in his report last year. Again, this will be welcomed by colleges.

The UCU reveiew is a little more cynical. They seem a little more sceptical about the rhetoric and spin of Mr Brown in what is widely thought to be his last budget. The UCU are especially concerned about the Student Loan sell off.

The University and College Union (UCU) today said the Chancellor needed to demonstrate his commitment to all areas of education. The union welcomed the extra money for the education sector, but warned that much more needed to be done if the UK was to really lead the way in education. It also cautioned against plans to sell off student loans.

UCU joint general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: "All politicians tell us that education is a priority "“ some repeat the mantra three times. Rhetoric alone cannot support our universities and colleges, especially if the challenging participation targets in the Leitch Report are to be realised.

"The increase in the percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) spent on education to 5.6% is welcome. However, part of that increase has come from charging university tuition fees. When the DfES and the devolved governments come to divvy up the overall education budget they must look to increase spending on further and higher education.

"We want public spending on higher education to rise as a proportion of GDP to the international average. UCU has called on the government to use the forthcoming comprehensive spending review (CSR) to bring Britain in line with countries such as America and our European neighbours.

"More money for employers to fund training is to be welcomed and hopefully the reduction in corporation tax will prompt companies into significantly increasing their outlay on training and career development. However, there was sadly no mention of how the government intends to address the funding and pay gap between our colleges and schools."

Commenting on the news the government is planning a £6 billion sale of the student loan book, Sally Hunt said: "This appears to be a short-term strategy as the government will ultimately lose money in the long-term from repaid debts. Let's not forget that few private companies have a proud record of taking over the running of systems like student loans.

"We need assurances from government that the money raised will be ploughed back into higher education and not used to replace public funding. Furthermore, as students are forced to borrow more to meet the cost of their university education, we need a guarantee that the interest rate on student loans will not rise."

"We are pleased that these decisions strongly support AoC's own priorities for the sector and we look forward to discussing with Government how these ambitions can now be met."

The Association of Learning Providers are really pleased about the recent budget. A spokesman for the Association of Learning Providers said: "We"ve been pressing hard for months, actually years, for much closer links between the skills and employment remits of the DfES and DWP respectively. Therefore we were greatly encouraged about today's announcements about aiming for a seamless service between the LSC and Jobcentre Plus, particularly in respect of putting unemployed youngsters into jobs where they can improve their skills under the Train to Gain programme."

CBI Director-General, Richard Lambert, said: "The skill levels of many young people leaving secondary school remain poor despite almost a decade of rising investment in schools. Basic skills remain a real weak point of the UK economy. As employers and taxpayers, businesses will expect spending increases to deliver a faster pace of improvement.

"The CBI supports moves to raise the age at which young people can leave education or training to address the lack of basic and employability skills amongst many young people entering the labour market. Raising the leaving age must therefore be part of a wider package which also includes government funding for reformed, fit-for-purpose qualifications and high quality careers advice.

"We welcome the new proposals aimed at encouraging 16 to 18 year olds into training who are currently outside the education system."

What do you think of the budget, good news for FE or bad? Email your article to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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