Fears are growing that the government’s FE funding boost for this year will not be sufficient to cover an anticipated surge in 16 to 19 year old college places. The government is pumping an additional £400 million into further education in 2020-21, which includes raising the 16 to 19 learner base rate to £4,188 and could, the Institute for Fiscal Studies says, represent the first real-terms increase in spending per student for about a decade.
However, the organisation’s annual report on education spending, published today, warns that because of the way the FE funding system works, exceptional rises in student numbers could still generate a real-terms fall in funding per student. It explains how student numbers in FE colleges and sixth forms are likely to increase this year due to rising numbers of young people combined with “unusually high” GCSE results and “significant” reductions in training and employment opportunities. The report chimes with an FE Week investigation in September that found recruitment for traditional level 3 further education courses was booming, and even university technical colleges learner numbers were on the rise despite the pandemic.