From education to employment

Newly Published Report Says Gap Between Schools and Colleges Is Now at 13%

A new report has revealed today that colleges providing the same courses as schools receive at least 13% less per student on average. According to a report commissioned by the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) from Learning and Skills Development Agency (LSDA) in November 2004 , there is a difference of at least £400 per year compared with schools, which equates to a loss of £600,000 to the average sixth-form or general further education college.

“This new report illustrates the true extent of the inequity between college and school sixth form funding. It is indefensible that the two-thirds of young learners who study in colleges are being short-changed by at least £400 a year on average. It is time now to remedy this long-standing injustice,” commented Dr John Brennan, Association of Colleges (AoC) Chief Executive.

The report states that the objective is not perfect equality but that “learners in equivalent circumstances should receive equivalent treatment”. Closing the gap “¦is primarily a matter of according to colleges the more favourable treatment enjoyed in various respects by schools, rather than raising the funding rates paid to colleges.” The conclusions of the report were broadly accepted by the LSC in early February 2005 and was required to be brought forward to DfES Ministers by March 2005, as part of LSC proposals for the reform of the funding system. Up until now, the figure associated with the funding gap was 10.5%. This new evidence puts the figure at 13%, making the funding gap even larger than previously acknowledged.

When questioned in the House of Commons on July 14 the funding gap, Bill Rammell, Minister for Higher Education and Lifelong Learning said, “I accept that there is a funding gap between schools and colleges and I have to admit that that is a direct result of the Governments extra investment in schools””and I am not going to apologise for that. In 2002″“03, we estimated the funding gap at 10.5 per cent. Since then, we have brought up the overall funding levels for sixth-form colleges and further education colleges, which has resulted in that gap shrinking significantly. We want to make further progress, but we can do so only if the resources are available.”

The AoC, National Union of Students (NUS) and Secondary Heads Association (SHA) say that the new indisputable evidence makes it imperative that Government act now. “Along with the AoC and other partners, NUS has known all along that the funding gap was this bad despite Government denial. The poor funding of our colleges in comparison to the school sector is a disgrace and an insult to the valuable service these institutions provide. Its time that Government showed their appreciation of Further Education institutions, lecturers and students by bridging the funding gap between schools and colleges,” said NUS Vice President Further Education Ellie Russell.

The full report is available on the LSDA website

What do you think about the funding gap? Tell us in the FE Blog

Related Articles