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Colleges need £600 million of extra funding per year to cater for growing 16-18 population, says AoC

19 June 2024

Funding boost

David Hughes, Chief Executive, Association of Colleges, said: “This report from the IFS echoes what AoC has been saying about college funding for years: the education of 16 to 18-year-olds and adults were severely cut in the decade from 2010, resulting in fewer hours of teaching for young people, a £9,000 pay gap between college lecturers and school teachers and adult learning opportunities plummeting from 4.4million per year to 1.5million. The recent increases in the funding for 16-18 students has helped a little, but it remains 9% below 2010 levels.

“The report shows that schools will see a significant drop in the number of pupils under the age of 16, but the 16-18 student population is growing for the next five years; research published in October found that around 39% colleges had seen a growth of 10% or more students in the 2023/24 academic year. We estimate that FE colleges will need around £600 million of extra funding per year to provide places for those who are currently in state secondaries and who’ll be turning 16 under the new government.

“To recruit and retain the staff needed, that £9,000 pay gap must be closed and the starting salary for college staff must be increased to £35,000. There is also an urgent need for colleges to be able to access the capital funding they need to either build new buildings or expand their current space to cope with the growing numbers.

“We know that budgets will be tight going forward, but the next government must commit to investing in the FE workforce and estate to ensure that the education and training needs of 100% of the population can be met. As this report shows, the reduced numbers in schools will reduce costs; the next government needs to recycle those savings into colleges for the growing number of young people, plus reinstate the severe cuts made since 2010 in adult learning.”

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