Skip to main content

Sector news, 13 - 20 April 2014

Extra cash for colleges to provide free meals for poor students TES, 16 April 2014

FE colleges will receive extra funding to help them provide free meals to disadvantaged students, it was announced today. From September, free meals must be made available for disadvantaged students on FE courses at all institutions. Today the government said that for the 2014 to 2015 academic year, colleges will receive £2.41 per student for each meal taken. There will also be a one-off payment to help institutions to put facilities and processes into place. The news was welcomed by the Association of Colleges, which led a campaign to extend free meals to college students.

Funding cuts are stripping post-16 education 'to the bone' TES, 15 April 2014

A group of leading education bodies has accused policymakers of stripping 16-19 education “to the bone” in a new report. The six bodies, representing school sixth forms and sixth-form and FE colleges, claim in 16-19 Education Stripped to the Bare Bones that loss of funding for A-level and vocational qualifications is having “dire consequences”. They say that A-level students are missing out on up to 200 hours of teaching time over a two-year course compared to five years ago because of funding cuts, and that sixth-form funding is now little over half (58 per cent) of what it was when today’s 17-year-olds were born. The organisations behind the report are the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), Association of Colleges (AoC), Sixth Form Colleges Association (SFCA), Independent Academies Association (IAA), Freedom and Autonomy for Schools (Fasna) and Principals’ Professional Council (PPC). They organisations have requested an urgent meeting with Mr Gove to discuss their concerns.

Accounting most popular for FE loans FE Week, 17 April 2014

Qualifications in accounting and youth work have proved the most popular for students taking out 24+ advanced learner loans, officials have revealed. Loan applications for courses starting in August opened in April, and so far 42,534 learners have used them to enrol — and the top loans-funded qualification was the Association of Accounting Technicians’ (AAT) level three diploma in accounting, with 2,238 students enrolling with loans. The level four diploma in accounting, also awarded by AAT, was the third most popular choice with 1,119 enrolments. The second most popular course was the Council for Awards in Care, Health and Education (Cache) level three diploma for the children and young people’s workforce with 1,640 loans-funded enrolments. A survey commissioned by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills revealed that just 12 per cent of the general public were aware of 24+ advanced learning loans.

Apprentice funding plans rejected in consultation FE Week, 17 April 2014

The full results of the government’s apprenticeship funding consultation last year have been released for the first time — revealing the vast majority of provider and employer respondents did not support the government’s proposed reforms. In November Skills Minister Matthew Hancock announced the government would be seeking to fund apprenticeships through the PAYE system, just one of the options suggested in the consultation. PAYE funding, where employers would claim funding through the tax system, had been supported by just 29 out of 366 respondents from businesses, providers and other stakeholders according to the results — and even where it had the highest support, among medium-sized business, it was supported by less than one-in-four. The current system of channelling funding through providers was the most popular option, having support from 213 of the 366 respondents, but was not mentioned in proposals laid out as part of the second consultation. Chief executive of the Association for Employment and Learning Providers (AELP) Stewart Segal said many smaller businesses have said they will not recruit apprentices if they have to manage the funding directly.

University financial health check 2014 Times Higher, 17 April 2014

The Times Higher looked into how universities are faring after the first full year of operating with the £9,000 fees regime. Institutions must self-fund the new buildings and facilities they need to attract students. They found some trends by looking at figures compiled by accountancy firm Grant Thornton. Surpluses have reduced, which could expose some universities to damage as some think the accumulation of a decent surplus is necessary in the face of future uncertainty. The two best performers with the best net operating surplus before exceptional items as a percentage of total income are both small, Norwich University of the Arts (18.7 per cent) and University College Birmingham (17.8 per cent). Russell Group members the University of Exeter and the University of Birmingham recorded a small deficit (-0.7 per cent of income) and a marginal surplus (1.3 per cent of income), respectively.