Written evidence submitted by the Association
of Colleges (AoC)
ABOUT FE AND
The Association of Colleges (AoC) represents
and promotes the interests of the 352, Further Education Colleges
and Sixth Form Colleges established under the Further and Higher
Education Act 1992, and their 3.4 million students.
The following key facts illustrate Colleges'
contribution to education and training in England:
Every year Colleges educate and train
three million people.
831,000 of these students are aged 16
to 18 which compares to 423,000 in schools.
74,000 14 to 15 year olds are enrolled
at a College.
One-third of A-level students study at
Colleges are making a vital contribution to
helping businesses recover from the recession and are a major
draw for inward investment because of the range of skills they
offera rich mix of academic and vocational education ranging
from basic skills to higher education degrees. Colleges currently
train many thousands of apprentices and provide 11% of higher
education places and 39% of all vocational qualifications achieved
each year, supporting key objectives of the Department for Business,
Innovation and Skills.
In the Spending Review the Government announced
that the Education Maintenance Allowance is to be abolished. In
making this announcement the Chancellor said:
"We will fund an increase in places for
16 to 19-year-olds, and raise the participation age to 18 by the
end of the Parliament. That enables us to replace education maintenance
allowances with more targeted support."
Young people from households with an income
of less than £20,800 per year currently receive an EMA of
£30 which is of great significance to those families and
evidence shows that it has had a positive impact on recruitment,
retention and achievement.
Research conducted by CfBT
concluded that EMAs have been:
Successful in delivering their intended
outcomes. There is robust evidence that EMAs have increased participation
and achievement among 16 and 17 year olds, and contributed to
improved motivation and performance.
Effectively focused on the target group.
EMAs are restricted to low-income households, and disproportionately
taken up by those with low achievement levels at school, those
from ethnic minorities and those from single-parent families.
As relevant to the future policy agenda
as to the past. Although EMAs have helped to improve staying-on
rates the UK is still characterised by lower numbers participating
between 16 and 18 and a wide gap in performance linked to social
For example, research by the Institute for Fiscal
shows attainment at GCSE and A-level by recipients of EMA rose
by 5 to 7 percentage points since its introduction, and by even
more for those living in the most deprived neighbourhoods.
This evidence is reinforced by the strong message
we have had from College principals who believe that many young
people would not be able to stay in education and training without
their EMA and therefore would not have the opportunity to continue
on to higher education.
AoC has always believed that raising the education
participation age to 18 would only be successful if sufficient
financial support was available to young people. As a result of
withdrawing EMAs we believe it will become financially difficult
for many young people to participate in education post-16 and
that there will be an increasing reliance on financial penalties
to ensure full participation.
FOR 16-19 EDUCATION
The Department for Education has announced
that FE and Sixth Form Colleges (where the majority of 16-18 year
olds choose to study) and schools will have to make unit-cost
reductions in their 16-19 budgets.
We are pleased that the Department said that
"there is also scope for achieving savings from back office
costs and by raising all provision to the level of the most efficient."
In light of this statement we look to Government to review whether
it needs to continue to pay schools and academies a greater amount
of money to educate each 16-19 year old than it does FE and Sixth
Form Colleges. The difference in funding now stands at 9.6% (not
including VAT). This premium is given despite evidence that Colleges
recruit a more disadvantaged cohort of students. We hope that
when DfE Ministers look to make savings to 16-19 spending they
bring school and academy sixth form funding levels down to that
of FE and Sixth Form Colleges.
Although the Chancellor's speech identified
education and skills as a budget priority to support the economic
recovery, the budget settlement for BIS involved above-average
cuts of 25% on the revenue budget. AoC believes the total reduction
in further education and skills funding will be around 25%. This
follows a cut of 14% to the adult learning budget earlier this
year following decisions made by the previous Government.
Following the Browne Review, higher education,
of which FE Colleges provide 10%, will experience a 40% cut over
four years. We hope the wider recommendations from Browne bring
some much needed flexibility and efficiency to the HE system by
further allowing local FE Colleges to provide affordable HE opportunities
to adults, many of whom study part-time.
The Spending Review statement included a promise
of a big increase in spending on adult apprenticeships compared
to the plans of the previous Government but this reflects a need
to consolidate the one-off budget increase announced in May 2010
which funded 50,000 extra places. The extra money promised last
week will take the total up to 75,000. Total funding for 19+ apprenticeships
in the 2010-11 academic year, delivered via the Skills Funding
Agency, is £402 million of which £85 million goes directly
to Colleges. Despite these ambitions which AoC and Colleges support,
there remains insufficient employer places to meet demand from
The Chancellor announced the abolition of the
Train to Gain scheme in his speech, through which businesses received
funding to train their staff, but we understand that funding will
still be available for workplace learning outside apprenticeships
(a scheme for small to medium enterprises) but details are yet
to be confirmed. Total Skills Funding Agency funding for Train
to Gain in the 2010-11 academic year is £707 million, of
which £395 million, goes directly to Colleges. We would welcome
further information on these BIS plans.
Government has pledged to create a better balance
of funding between the state and individuals. The entitlement
to free training for a first full level 2 (GCSE equivalent) qualification
for those over 25, will be scrapped. We would welcome clarification
from Ministers as to how many people have taken advantage of this
entitlement in the past and what level of fees they expect this
age group in the future to pay for level 2 courses.
Further education students aged 24 and over
studying for a level 3 qualification (A-level equivalent) will
be asked to pay fees. These students will be supported by the
offer of a Government backed loan where repayments will be dependent
on income, protecting those with lower earnings. BIS have said
they are "exploring mechanisms to increase employer contributions
such as voluntary training levies."
AoC welcomes this proposal.
Among the savings that BIS will make is a restriction
of English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) funding to "settled
communities". ESOL provision is absolutely vital to community
cohesion is many areas and therefore we would welcome clarification
from Ministers as to how they define "settled communities"
for this purpose.
1 House of Commons Hansard, 20 Oct 2010: Column 964 Back
"Should we end the Education Maintenance Allowance"
Mick Fletcher, CfBT, 2009 Back
http://cdn.hm-treasury.gov.uk/sr2010_chapter2.pdf :page 53 Back