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Colleges get one year protection from funding cuts

Colleges in England hit by the government’s controversial funding cut for 18-year-olds in education will be given some protection by having their losses capped, it has been announced.

In a letter to providers, skills minister Matthew Hancock said that any losses resulting from the 17.5 per cent cut would be capped at 2 per cent.

The protection, which is only available for the 2014/15 academic year, will protect more than 450 schools and colleges that would otherwise have lost more than 2 per cent of their funding.

Mr Hancock wrote: “This protection will give schools and colleges more time to adapt to the change, including for those students who are already on courses, and give greater certainty over future funding.”

The minister had previously refused to back down on the cut, which has been opposed by a number of bodies, including the Association of Colleges (AoC) and the 157 Group of colleges.

Martin Doel, chief executive of the AoC, said he was pleased that the minister had listened to their concerns.

“Both the AoC and colleges understand that they need to take their fair share of austerity as the government seeks to rebalance the books,” said Mr Doel.

“However, it is time for politicians to think seriously about what they want colleges to achieve on behalf of the nation and to what extent this should be funded by the taxpayer and to what extent by employers and the students themselves.”

The National Union of Students described the move as a “short-term measure” that would only give providers breathing space to prepare for the “ensuing disaster”.

Joe Vinson, NUS vice president (further education), said: “The government still doesn’t seem to understand that it is turning its back on the people who need the most support. This cut will affect further education colleges more than schools, meaning that FE students are yet again being treated like second class citizens.”

The government said schools and colleges will receive their 2014/15 allocations by the end of March.

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