From education to employment

Further Education Providers Take Drastic Steps to tackle Funding Shortfall

The effects of this year’s cut in adult learning funding continue to become apparent across the country, and the Tees Valley has sadly proven to be no exception.

In an effort to meet the requirements of a lower ““ than ““ hoped budgetary allocation in the last spending review from the Learning and Skills Council (LSC), a Tees Valley College has been forced to cut jobs in Adult Learning. In the mission to increase the provision for 16 -18 education, adult education has had to accept a smaller share of the funds, and as a result fees look set to be increased in courses that do not represent basic skills training.

One of the hardest hit in this has been the Darlington College of Technology, which has seen its funding slashed by £600,000 for this academic year. Some 41 staff have lost their posts, amounting in conjunction with cuts in course provision (including in Modern Languages) to a saving of £630,000. As a result of the shrinking availability of courses, it seem inevitable that the numbers of students applying for a place at the college will fall as well.

Principals Find Similar Problems

Speaking on the job cuts, Sarah Farley, Darlington College principal and chief executive, said: “We had to make some tough decisions as a result of the shortfall and have restructured the college to meet the needs of the challenges ahead.” A similar experience has been encountered at the Stockton Riverside College, where numbers of post ““ 19 year old applicants has already fallen.

This experience is also affecting the Middlesbrough College, said John Hogg, principal. Gary Groom, of Redcar and Cleveland College, said: “We are still enrolling for adult learners and the college enrols all year round for adult learners, the only restriction we have is the target numbers we are given by the Learning and Skills Council. This year our targets have moved away from learners aged 19-plus towards under 19s, but at the moment we are still in a position to enrol adult learners.”

There are, however, reports that adult learners are being turned away from some courses at FE Colleges as education professionals scramble to meet Government ““ set targets. It should be noted at the same time that the the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) and the Government have invested more than £1 billion extra funds to the education of adult learners in the past few years; as such, it seems a limit has been reached regarding how heavily the Government can increase subsidies for adult learning.

And, with the news that Middlesbrough Adult Education service has increased its fees as a result of a shortfall in its budget allocation and Redcar and Cleveland Adult Education Services has also reviewed its fees, it seems to be an unavoidable conclusion that adult learning, and adult learners will suffer.

Jethro Marsh

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