John Stone is chief executive of LSN

The autumn Spending Review, which will set out the government's approach to reducing the budget deficit over the course of this Parliament, poses some real and very serious threats to the FE sector. Whilst much of the sector's attention will be focussed on the expected changes to Departmental programme spending, benefits to lower-income families will also be under review and could face cuts. Alongside the prospect of higher individual and employer contributions to FE fees, the combined effect on college attendance and funding could present additional challenges to the sector.

The first concern is for the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA), the means-tested payment of £10 to £30 a week to help young people between 16-19 stay in education. Influential right wing think organisations, such as the Policy Exchange, the Institute of Directors and the Tax Payers Alliance, have lobbied for its abolition. As if that weren't enough to spell the EMA's doom, its costs fall outside of core departmental spending, which means there will be greater scrutiny to cut or severely reduce it.

Around 45% of 17-19 year olds in full-time education receive EMA, a disproportionate number of whom attend FE colleges, so cuts to EMA will be felt hardest by colleges. Evidence suggests that EMA raises the participation rate of eligible young people by an average of about 6%.

The next concern is the proposed programme of benefits reform, the beginning of which was announced within the emergency budget. From 2011/12, Child Benefit will be frozen and a series of reforms will be introduced to Child Tax Credits that will reduce payments to families with joint incomes above £26,000. Whilst the spending review is likely to focus primarily on the Departmental programme spending, it is unlikely that these 2 benefits will come through unscathed for 2011/12 – 2014/15. The best case scenario will be no further reductions to those announced in the emergency budget, although this seems unlikely.

Families with 16-19 year-olds in full-time education and unwaged training are eligible for universal Child Benefit and means-tested Child Tax Credit, and it's their children – those from lower-middle income families – who are most likely to attend general FE colleges. Reforms to these benefits, especially if combined with the abolition of or cuts to EMAs, could tip the balance for parents with combined incomes of £26,000 - £30,000, making it very difficult for them to continue supporting their children in FE.

The upcoming policy response to the Banks Review poses additional threats for colleges. The review concluded that learners and employers will need to contribute more to FE fees. However, the review lacked measures to ensure that, once implemented, its recommendations do not result in a catastrophic reduction in the number of adult learners studying in FE colleges. University students currently benefit from low-cost subsidised loans, but there is no prospect for a similar scheme for FE.

The combination of cuts to participants' disposable income alongside Banks' recommendations for higher individual contributions could severely reduce the number of young people and adults turning to FE. As overhead costs for colleges remain constant, funding cuts will drastically affect the amount spent on teaching and learning. Staff numbers are likely to face cuts and the quality of provision will go down. We could see colleges enter a period of decline from which it will be very difficult to recover.

Colleges are well aware of the prospects for funding and many have started to plan, as best they can, for the foreseeable financial circumstances. However, the impact of policy changes on the demand for their courses is less well understood, and will require far more consideration from both policy makers and providers, before the system can be subjected to the risk of unintended consequences.

LSN will shortly be sending a Spending Review briefing to all college Principals, together with an invitation to one of three October regional seminars for college SMT to discuss how colleges can best operate through the cuts. More information on the seminars can be found here.

John Stone is chief executive of LSN, the not-for-profit organisation focused on making learning work for further and higher education, local authorities and schools, public services, work-based learning and international organisations


Read other FE News articles by John Stone:

MoLeNET has taught us the benefits of technology-enabled learning, but what lessons have been learnt?

Getting your options right

'Technology revolution' is the way for education to withstand cuts

You may also be interested in these articles:

Register, Login or Login with your Social Media account:


Advertisers

Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Newsroom Activity

FE News: The Future of Education News Channel commented on this video 10 hours 41 minutes ago

The College of the Future
UK-Wide Final Report

The College of the Future UK-Wide Final Report

The College of the Future UK-Wide Final Report

FE News: The Future of Education News Channel shared a video in channel. 10 hours 42 minutes ago

The College of the Future UK-Wide Final Report

The College of the Future UK-Wide Final Report

FE News: The Future of Education News Channel The College of the Future
UK-Wide Final Report
10 hours 41 minutes ago
loader
loader
Attachment
FE News: The Future of Education News Channel had a status update on Twitter 10 hours 43 minutes ago

RT @julia_heap1: Great to read this @YourAAT, started my own #AAT journey in my early 20’s & never looked back! Investment in lifelong lea…
View Original Tweet

Latest Education News

Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In May 2020, FE News had over 120,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.

Podcasts

We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.

Events

FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

 RSS IconRSS Feed Selection Page