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Chancellor has to stop ignoring the evidence: AoC response to new EPI report

13 May 2019

In response to the Education Policy Institute's report, '16-19 Education Funding: Trends and Implications', David Hughes, Chief Executive of the Association of Colleges, said: “Report after report and expert after expert have highlighted the impact of the decade of cuts that England’s colleges have had to endure. EPI are the latest independent voice to point this out, and the evidence is consistent. Cuts to college funding have meant that: students in England receive an average of ten hours less teaching time per week than their counterparts in other OECD countries – that’s 300 fewer hours each year. This disparity will impact our ability to compete as we look to sure up our economy post-Brexit teaching staff in colleges are now paid an average of £7k less than in schools – making the recruitment and retention crisis across the wider-sector even more stark in further education increased pressure on the financial viability of institutions – according to a report by the Children’s Commissioner, by the end of this decade, we’ll be spending the same amount of money per 16-18 student as we were in 1990, despite costs rising with inflation. This has consequences. Association of Colleges has long been calling for an end to ten years of cuts, and for 16-19 funding to be prioritised in the upcoming Comprehensive Spending Review. We’ve recently seen MPs from all major parties lend their backing – including 165 MPs signing a letter to the Chancellor, co-authored by prominent Conservative and Labour MPs, and almost 100 MPs speaking in two Westminster Hall Debates in the last six months. This issue goes way beyond Westminster though. The #LoveOurColleges campaign shows that there is backing from a broad coalition across the country, including businesses and employers, unions, students, and the general public. The message is clear; the Chancellor cannot go on ignoring the overwhelming independent evidence consistently presented to him. If he is serious about supporting our economy and our communities, he has to get serious about investing in our colleges."