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Colleges - Hung out to dry


Further Education colleges face disaster after disaster, as government schemes for the sector hit the buffers.

The first bad news arrived when the Learning and Skills Council said it no longer had the money to fund its flagship Building Colleges for the Future programme. Many colleges, encouraged to spend huge sums to bids to improve shabby and inadequate buildings, some having already started work, now have nothing.

Then in April they received warning letters that demand for Train to Gain and 25+ apprenticeships has “exceeded budget allocations”, and funding deals with colleges will be “adjusted”.

Now colleges and school 6th forms have learned that 16-18 funding announcements were “provisional”, in fact there are cuts of around 4 per cent. But many providers have already recruited their students for September, responding to government pressure to reduce the scandal of “NEETs”, the 16- to 18-year-olds not in employment, education or training. What future for them?