From education to employment

Spending cuts to hit welsh students harder

John Graystone, chief executive of fforwm

Up to 2000 welsh students are expected to face further financial hardship this autumn, according to the educational charity fforwm, following the Welsh Assembly’s decision to make cuts to the Financial Contingency Fund.

In a recent letter to the Welsh Assembly, the association for colleges in Wales called for a rethink to Government strategy, after spending was cut by half a million pounds this summer.

The Financial Contingency Fund, a source of help for university students who are struggling financially, may be reinstated later this year depending on other spending commitments.

John Graystone, chief executive of fforwm, said: “When the cuts in the Financial Contingency Fund were announced to colleges in the summer, fforwm – the association of colleges in Wales – wrote to the Welsh Assembly Government pointing out the impacts the cuts would have on students and asking for a correction to the budget. We are disappointed that the Welsh Assembly Government has not found it possible to do so.”

In the last academic year, a total of £6.8million pounds had been awarded to students, a rise of eight per cent on the previous year. fforwm has revealed that some students who were depending on this support this year, have now deciding not to study at all.

Mr Graystone continued: “FE colleges have used Financial Contingency Funds particularly to support disadvantaged learners. It is ironic that the Welsh Assembly Government is currently consulting on its policies to widen participation in learning, and to ensure that all efforts are made to keep people in employment, education, training, whilst cutting funds from the students who most need the extra support.

“A cut of 0.5m is small in comparison with the Assembly’s overall budget. But for learners this is a huge amount and fforwm estimates that 2,000 students will lose out. It is difficult to understand the reasoning behind the reduction in the Financial Contingency Fund, the lack of prior notice given to FE colleges, and how colleges are expected to maintain commitments to their learners and to meet the challenges of the Welsh Assembly Government’s social justice and widening participation agendas.”

Jason Seebaruth

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