Calls for ‘fair funding’ to allow colleges to invest in skills

Pat Brennan Barrett image

The principal of Northampton College has called on the Government to review its funding allocation for further education and invest in the workforce of the future.

The rallying call, from Pat Brennan-Barrett, comes as part of a national ‘day of action’ with colleges across the country urging MPs to discuss the implications of funding for current and future students ahead of the Government’s Budget announcement later this month.

As a member of the Association of Colleges (AoC), Northampton College has joined others to call on the Government for ‘fair funding’ for colleges.

The AoC is recommending that the Government increase spending on education and training to five per cent of GDP – this currently stands at 4.3 per cent of GDP but is forecast to fall at a time when student numbers are rising.

Mrs Brennan-Barrett said: “We have serious and longstanding concerns about the funding of 16-19 education. We firmly believe it to be unfair and out of date meaning there is a wide and ever-growing gap between the funding made available to educate young learners and the actual cost of delivering a high quality curriculum.

“This increase in funding recommended by the AoC would bring us into line with other nations where young people receive many more hours of tuition and support than in England. Our system is unusual because funding for 16 to 18-year-olds is 22 per cent lower than funding for five to 16-year-olds.

“The decision to leave the European Union requires an urgent focus on supporting young people and adults to meet the skills needs of businesses. Locally, we help 9,000 people improve their skills to help them get into work and earn more but the Government needs to use this month’s Budget to increase that investment.

“Fair funding for colleges would result in more people getting technical and professional education and training to help build a highly skilled workforce, boost productivity and improve social mobility.”

The campaign has seen colleges write to the Chancellor of the Exchequer urging him to support an increase in funding of £200 per student.

David Hughes, Chief Executive of the Association of Colleges, said: “Colleges already support more than two million people nationally, but there are more people who want to improve their skills and the investment by Government is insufficient.

“Colleges are at the forefront of delivering technical and professional education and training and they can do more with the right investment. Fair funding for colleges is essential for every community and for employers who need skilled people to be successful.”

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