From education to employment

Future of Adult Learning Funding Worth Fighting For

The National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (NIACE) will be instigating a campaign for fairer funding to tackle the crisis of future funding cuts and scrapping courses, together with the projected increase in fees.

This issue has raised concerns in NIACE as opportunities for adult learners have been reduced in some parts of the England and Wales. This has even led to redundancies amongst some college staff. An example of this is the New College Swindon, which has experienced a 33% cut in courses affecting the approximately 4500 learners wishing to further their studies.

Number Crunching Crunches Numbers

Great Yarmouth courses- which have been praised in the pass for their training courses that help adults take their first steps back into work – have also been dramatically axed. Job losses have been incurred at Cambridge Regional College due to the closure of two community – based centres. Other colleges affected by the course shortages include Harrow College in North West London. In particular their Adult Basic Skills Department is set to suffer, with staff re-assigned to other teaching areas.

The Learning and Skills Council (LSC), the body responsible for allocating funding within the FE sector, has cut their allocation for learners over the age of 18 for 2005 / 2006 by some 3%. This represents a cut of at least £55 million. This situation is expected to worsen in the budgetary allocation for 2006 / 2007.

NIACE believe that these reductions are short-sighted for the country, which needs to engage in more adult learning programmes that will benefit Britain’s economic health. Though the impact of this funding allocation has not been felt in all institutions across the country, the cuts will damage Britain’s competitiveness and thus represent a threat that goes beyond the boundaries of local colleges and learning providers.

Kavita Trivedi

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