90% of colleges say their bursary funds won't meet students' needs - new AoC survey reveals

17 Jul 2020

Today (17 July), Association of Colleges is releasing its follow up survey to the one published in early May on the profound impact of Covid-19 on colleges, staff and students.

Key findings:

  • In many colleges all or most students under 19 have continued their learning remotely in the summer term with more than half of planned learning hours being delivered remotely.
  • Most of the colleges report that teaching staff were confident in delivering remote learning.
  • High quality digital resources are most available for Maths, Computing and IT, Business and Health and Social Care.
  • The vast majority of colleges have plans in place to enrol students online and will offer online college induction in September.
  • Many colleges have evidence of increased student hardship and report that their bursary / hardship funds are under more pressure as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic requiring an average of an additional £300,000 per college.
  • Over half of colleges report that their existing and additional bursary funding from DfE has not enabled them to purchase laptops and/or connectivity to support all their disadvantaged learners.
  • Three out of four colleges would need additional resources to support the provision of free college meal vouchers to current eligible students over the summer.
  • Four out of five colleges anticipate major transport difficulties around September re-opening.
  • The vast majority of colleges report additional demand for mental health and wellbeing services for students during the Covid-19 pandemic and have put additional mental health and wellbeing support in place for their students.
  • Just under half of colleges are planning to make redundancies by the end of the autumn term 2020 and a fifth will have made redundancies by September 2020.

Deputy Chief Executive, Julian Gravatt said:

“This survey, issued in 2020, aims to do the same as our first, but with a greater focus on the challenges of preparations for a more comprehensive reopening in September. The latest AoC sector survey indicates the financial challenges students and colleges are facing.

Nearly 90% of colleges have evidence of increased student hardship and that their bursary funds will not be able to meet these demands. The survey data indicates that an average of £300,000 of additional resources will be needed to meet this need. 

At the same time 46% of colleges expect they will need to make redundancies by the end of the autumn term 2020. 21% will have made redundancies by September 2020. In this week’s fiscal report, the Office of Budget Responsibility highlighted September as a likely peak in redundancies. Colleges only cut jobs as a last resort where they have exhausted all other options.”

You can view the full survey results here.