Election pledges by the three main political parties will produce 16-18 funding in school sixth forms, sixth form colleges and FE colleges around 10% lower per student than for younger secondary school pupils, according to the Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS). The IFS report says Labour’s plans for an 8% real-terms rise and the Conservatives’ promise of a real-terms freeze are more generous than their respective school spending plans; they slightly reduce the gap between funding for the two age groups over the past 30 years. The Liberal Democrats have also pledged a real-terms freeze.
A college has offered online incentives of £50 to anyone taking up (and completing by July 31 this year) free distance learning courses covering health and care, business and customer services. FE Week reports that the unprecedented offer, now closed, was a for a short period, time-limited and totalling less than £2,000, according to Middlesbrough College. Principal Zoe Lewis said the incentives were being paid for out of the colleges course development budget and were advertised to help “expand our portfolio and develop our capacity . . . to serve employers and learners at more flexible times”.
The number of colleges expecting a budget deficit in 2017-18 has dropped to just 13% compared with 20% during this academic year. An Association of Colleges (AoC) survey in partnership with TES also reveals almost 66% of institutions have drawn up a surplus budget. The AoC says much of the financial improvement is due to a slightly more stable government policy and smaller restructuring costs, although 56% of colleges were anticipating workforce restructuring. For a second consecutive year, around one third of colleges feel they will have to make compulsory redundancies.
The University and College Union is to issue its own charter for jobs and apprenticeships, report TES. The move follows heavy criticism of the Government’s apprenticeship programme at the union’s annual conference in Brighton for failing to give decent training and then finding suitable jobs for qualified apprentices.