Following the debate that has raged with particular vehemence in the past ten days, with the Association of Colleges (AoC) releasing a statement of Government cuts in Adult Learning funding on the Friday prior to the beginning of Adult Learning Week, the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) has explained why, after a 29% increase in funding since 2001 / 2002, there is now some pressure on colleges.

The Director of Strategy and Communication at the LSC, Rob Wye, said: "The Learning and Skills Council acknowledges that the 2005 / 06 funding round for further education will be very tight and that colleges will have to face some tough choices. This is in spite of the funding for FE in 2005 / 06 being some £170 million more than in 2004 / 05."

Participation Brings the Pressure?

Mr. Wye goes on to comment on the increased take "“ up of Further Educational provision has led to the heightened demand and also to the increased strain on resources being experienced by the colleges and training providers. Mr. Wye says: "Colleges are feeling the funding pressure in part because of their success in driving up rates of participation, retention and achievement among students "“ we now have the highest ever level of participation of 16 "“ 18 year olds in education and training."

The increase in participation and the pressure on the colleges has led to the LSC suggesting that the colleges concentrate funding on four key areas that the LSC has agreed with the Government in their Skills Strategy. These include education and training for 16 "“ 18 year olds; young people taking part in apprenticeships; the improvement of basic skills (such as literacy and numeracy); and people taking their first Level 2 qualification.

However, as he acknowledges, whilst the budget has not shrunk, the LSC have not "built anything in for growth", meaning that a similar amount of money is having to be allocated to a larger number of projects and people. And whilst he acknowledges that the consequent termination of certain courses (and therefore jobs) at colleges may be "unpalatable", he stresses that this is not due to any absolute cut in the funding provided.

Jethro Marsh

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