In response to the Prime Minister’s announcement on the education and funding review, David Hughes, Chief Executive of the Association of Colleges, said:
“The post-18 review announced today by the Prime Minister is significant because it will consider all the learning opportunities needed for a fair society, a strong economy and for lifelong learning to become a reality. Her comments on “outdated attitudes” towards technical qualifications is something we’ve been saying for a long time. This is welcome news for colleges, who support young people and adults to progress in their learning to higher levels, both through their own courses and at universities.
“The growth in higher education numbers and the widened access has almost exclusively been for young people taking traditional three-year undergraduate degrees. Colleges play an important part in helping young people access these opportunities. That’s good news for our economy and for society and must not be damaged going forward.
“However, that growth has been at the expense of adequate and fair investment in the 50% of people who leave education at 18 and who want to study to higher levels later. Their opportunities have been hampered because of the lack of attention, leading to fewer chances, less funding and a lack of support for them to learn whilst working.
“The review will be a difficult balancing act. It would be wrong to damage the growth in the numbers of young people accessing three-year undergraduate degrees, however, more investment is needed to make other forms of higher education more attractive and more accessible. Colleges support more than 150,000 people to study to sub-degree and degree level and with the right support and investment this number could be much higher. That would mean more adults able to improve their work and life prospects by studying in their own community while working and dealing with other commitments such as caring.
“We are delighted the Prime Minister chose Derby College as the venue for this important speech. This is a college which has a fine tradition of supporting people to study to higher levels through the full range of routes. It is also a college that could do so much more for more people with the right investment.”