Martin Doel, chief executive of the Association of Colleges (AoC), has expressed his disappointment that today’s Budget did not reveal how much money the government intends to plough into alternative funding to replace the scrapped EMA.
In a statement released to media outlets, Mr Doel said: “Young people are making decisions now about their future. Limited information about funding adds extra pressure, especially on those from low-income families, for whom significantly reduced funding could mean either greater hardship at College or a decision to withdraw from education. Currently, 15 to 16-year-olds are applying for College to start in September, yet Colleges are not in a position to give them the full picture about what financial support will be available.
“Given the exceptional level of public support for the EMA, the vital role it played in supporting students from low-income households, and evidence highlighting its positive impact, we continue to wait with interest, and some concern, for an announcement. We would urge the Chancellor and Michael Gove to reveal how much money they will make available as soon as possible.
“That said, there are a number of comments made during the Budget announcement that we welcome. We are pleased the Government has expressed an ambition to create a “better educated workforce” and is supporting Professor Alison Wolf’s report into vocational education; we hope all 26 recommendations will get full and proper consideration. Colleges are already involved in the University Technical Colleges currently being set up and will, no doubt, play a role in the 12 new UTCs announced today. However, AoC and its members believe that Colleges, which have a long and honourable history of providing high-quality vocational education – recognised most recently in the Wolf Report – can provide more vocational education to a greater number of people more effectively and efficiently than the 24 UTCs will do on their own.
“Further Education Colleges currently play a key role in supporting apprentices. Some 53,000 16 to 18-year-olds study for an apprenticeship at their local College and two-thirds of large employers who train their staff do so through a College. Our members will be keen to do yet more and offer training for the 50,000 new apprenticeships announced today, but they will be concerned whether places will be available for these new apprentices in companies, particularly as the Government expects them to employ the apprentice and cover 50% of the training costs.”
(Pictured: AoC CEO Martin Doel)