On-campus food banks are operating at one in eight English colleges, according to a joint survey by the Association of Colleges and TES. The statistics make grim reading: 13% of responding colleges run a food bank while 86% work in other ways to help students get enough to eat. The survey uncovered examples of colleges offering free breakfasts, students being subsidised up to £4 daily to buy food from college canteens, food bank voucher handouts and trips to supermarkets accompanied by college staff. TES quotes the NUS as saying lack of maintenance support has made student situations worse: scant funds are forcing some young people to choose whether to pay to get to college or simply to eat.
Just under £93m of state funding has been sunk into eight university technology colleges (UTCs) that have closed or are due to close and 17 failed studio school projects, according to analysis of latest government figures by FE Week. In all, nine UTCs and 26 studio schools have closed or have announced closure plans. Total state expenditure on UTCs and studio schools since 2010 is more than £407m.
Attending adult learning classes has a positive effect on parents’ ability to support their children with ‘three Rs’ homework, according to a survey carried out by the Workers’ Educational Association (WEA). TES reports that 60% of parents surveyed said taking part in courses had boosted their confidence. Other research suggests 25% of UK parents feel too embarrassed to offer help on homework.
Bail-out funds totalling £57.6m were allocated in 2017-18 to eight struggling colleges by the Education and Skills Funding Agency, according to its annual report. TES reports that the funds will not be recovered.
Financially hard-pressed colleges within the West Midlands combined authority area are to benefit from a £69m funding injection, according to FE Week. Reported to be the first of a new-style skills deal open to combined authorities, it will focus on building up apprenticeship numbers at small to medium size businesses and improving run-down college facilities. The Department for Education considers the West Midlands to be the region facing the greatest skills shortage in England, with 16% of its working age population without qualifications.