FE funding must have parity with schools, say leaders

As new figures reveal that spending per FE place has fallen by almost a tenth in the past decade, Scottish college leaders call for change

Tes Reporter

FE funding must have parity with schools, say leaders

Scottish college leaders are calling for further education to have “parity” with other education sectors after new figures showed spending per place has fallen by almost a tenth over the past decade.

While the average amount spent by the Scottish government on every preschool place has increased by 71 per cent, funding per place at both colleges and universities in Scotland went down.

Figures provided by education secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville in answer to a parliamentary question showed the average amount spent in real terms on each place at preschool went from £4,321 in 2010-11 to £7,397 in 2019. For universities, spending per place went from £6,525 in 2010-11 to £5,703 in 2020-21.

In the college sector, the average spend per place fell from £4,754 to £4,284.

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Andy Witty, director of sector policy at Colleges Scotland, said: “Our students deserve at the very least parity of funding with other educational settings.”

He pledged the organisation would “continue to relentlessly advocate to close this gap”.

Mr Witty added: “Colleges create the workforce needed now and are training the workforce of the future, upskilling and reskilling older learners, and providing a first choice for education and qualifications for learners of any age.

“Our learners deserve the very best experience at college and resources need to be there to ensure that their requirements are met and their expectations exceeded.”

Jamie Hepburn, higher and further education minister, said: “Our colleges and their staff are vital to our Covid-19 recovery and we recognise the importance of sustainable funding.

“We continuously keep college funding under review, which was demonstrated by actions we took to mitigate the impact of pandemic on the sector.

“The recently published Scottish Funding Council Review provides scope to consider whether further reforms are needed to the college funding model. Ministers are considering the review’s findings and they are expected to respond in the autumn.”

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