SPENDING on further education must rise to match universities if the Government is to realise its pledge to back business.
That was the message from Chris Payne, acting chief executive of the UK’s largest further education and training group NCG, ahead of Colleges Week.
Chris joined many chief executives and college principals from across the country as they called on Government to increase 16-19 funding by five per cent a year for five years – reversing a funding cut of 30 per cent since 2009.
While universities receive up to £9,000 per student and schools receive around £6,000 per student, the funding rate for colleges has been fixed since 2013 at £4,000 per full-time student – which reduces to £3,300 once the student turns 18.
Chris explained: “While NCG has a strong financial position that gives our colleges collective security, the cut in real terms spending has put increased pressure on the sector – which faces rising costs.
“It’s only right that funding for colleges is on a par with universities if we’re to equip students with first class knowledge and experience.
“NCG’s guiding principle is unlocking potential through learning. If the Government is serious about backing business – as the Prime Minister set out in her conference speech – it needs to back young people who will be the engine of tomorrow’s business.”
Chris’ comments come at the start of Colleges Week in which college principals across the country march on Parliament to demand increased funding.
The action will see senior college staff protest alongside students and trade unions as part of a campaign led by the Association of Colleges, the National Union of Students, Association of College and School Leaders, University and Colleges Union, Unison, GMB, TUC and National Education Union.
Chris also pointed to recent figures from the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) which show further education has seen an eight per cent funding cut in real terms since 2010/11.
Chris added: “We need to make sure we’re invested in the next generation, and post-16 education is a crucial point for the development of young people.
“I’m calling on the Government to look again at further education and make sure it backs the sector to help young people realise their potential.”
NCG is the largest not for profit training group in the UK and runs seven colleges and two training providers with around 2,500 staff.