Chancellor Philip Hammond is facing more pressure to boost college finances in the forthcoming Budget after a survey by the Sixth Form Colleges Association (SFCA) shows student support services and extra-curricular activities have suffered cutbacks in 66% of colleges and schools, according to FE Week. The data also shows funding for 16- to 19-year-olds is 21% less than that for 11-16s, and on average 50% less than the university tuition fee average of just under £9,000. 72% of respondents said they feared next year’s funding would fall short of levels needed to support disadvantaged students. The survey, which covers 341 institutions, reveals half its respondents had made cuts in foreign languages provision, and more than a third in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths).
A leading Oxford University education professor has highlighted dangers in the so-called ‘transition year’ at FE college for learners not yet ready to take the new T-levels, reports TES. Ewart Keep, a specialist in education, training and skills, says colleges are left to bring many school-leavers up to speed who have not reached level 2 standard before starting T-levels. The students enter FE because school sixth forms are under pressure to be selective and not to take less successful learners at 16. Keep says the government’s Post-16 Skills Plan does not address the ‘huge burden’ being carried by colleges and does not clarify the future for FE students who don’t make the grade. He fears T-levels will simply enshrine the idea that A-levels are the “default route” for more academic students.
Ofsted hopes to bring in a tougher inspection regime for FE providers that are attempting to jump from a ‘requires improvement’ inspection rating to ‘good’, reports FE Week. Ofsted is canvassing opinion on the idea prior, it hopes, to replacing its current series of ‘support and challenge’ visits with a one-off monitoring visit followed by a published progress report open to the public. It says it wants to increase both the number and the speed of providers moving to ‘good’.
Universities have doubled the funding they receive for adult. education, apprenticeships and traineeships since 2014-15, according to research by TES. Income has risen to £31.9m and universities entering the market have almost trebled in number to 62. The Association of Colleges says universities are increasingly going out on their own to offer apprenticeship training but lack the expertise in delivery and tried and trusted employer networks built up by FE colleges over many years. The Association of Colleges says universities are increasingly going out on their own to offer apprenticeship training but lack the expertise in delivery and tried and trusted employer networks built up by FE colleges over many years.