Colleges are to benefit from a £400 million funding package, with the 16-18 funding rate increasing for the first time since 2013.
The base rate of per-student, sixth-form funding has been frozen at £4,000 for seven consecutive years. As a result, real-terms funding dropped by 18 per cent between 2010-11 and 2018-19, according to the Education Policy Institute.
However, the rate will finally go up in 2020-21, the Treasury has announced. The move follows extensive campaigning and lobbying by sector bodies such as the Association of Colleges (AoC) and the Sixth Form Colleges Association (SFCA).
The boost is part of what the Treasury has described as "the single biggest annual increase for the sector since 2010", ahead of next Wednesday's spending round.
The money announced today will be allocated across colleges in England, as well as other 16-18 providers including school sixth forms.
Quick read: Boris Johnson backs FE funding
Background: College funding boost to be announced tomorrow
A long-awaited 16-18 funding boost
The one-year package announced today includes:
- £190 million to "protect and increase" the 16-18 base rate, which will go up by almost £200 from the current rate of £4,000 per student.
- £120 million to "help deliver expensive but crucial subjects such as engineering".
- £35 million for targeted interventions to support students on level 3 courses who failed GCSE maths and English, so they can resit their qualifications.
- £25 million extra to deliver T levels.
- £10 million extra for the advanced maths premium, worth £600 for every additional student who takes on A- and AS- level maths
- £20 million to "help the sector to continue to recruit and retain brilliant teachers and leaders, and provide more support to ensure high-quality teaching of T levels".
Tes understands that extra funding is expected to be provided to cover colleges' spiralling pensions costs, however this has not been included in the announcement.
'My FE college opened my horizons'
Following a visit to South Gloucestershire and Stroud College yesterday, where he studied economics, maths and computer science, chancellor Sajid Javid (pictured) said: “Further education, like all our public services, is a lifeline of opportunity for our young people.
"We’ll make a strong statement in backing it at this week’s spending round and I’ll continue to look at what more we can do to help, just as my FE college opened my horizons and set me on my way.”
Education secretary Gavin Williamson said: “As former FE students, the chancellor and I both know first-hand how important the further education sector is, so I’m really pleased that today government is giving our sixth forms and colleges a major funding boost – the single biggest annual uplift since 2010.
"This investment will make sure we can continue to develop world-class technical and vocational education to rival countries on the continent so we have a highly skilled and productive workforce for the future.”
Extra cash a 'good start'
David Hughes, chief executive of the Association of Colleges, said: “Colleges have been overlooked and underfunded for far too long. Today’s announcement of an additional £400 million marks the first meaningful investment in further education for 16- to 19-year-olds for more than 10 years. It’s not enough to reverse the decade of cuts, nor to properly stabilise the sector for the future, but it is a good start.
"I am delighted that the government has listened to college leaders, MPs, businesses, students and stakeholders, all of whom have made it clear that they want more investment in colleges. This announcement will start to invest more in our young people with a long-overdue increase in the base funding rate for 16- and 17-year-olds. This will help support the world-class education and training which colleges provide to help our young people to succeed."
Bill Watkin, chief executive of the Sixth Form Colleges Assocation, said: "This £400 million investment is good news – sixth-form education that has been starved of resources over the past decade and today’s announcement provides a much-needed boost to the 1.1 million 16- to 18-year-olds in colleges and schools across England.
'The first meaningful investment in a decade'
"Around half of this investment will be used to Raise the Rate – the government has obviously listened to the coalition of organisations and MPs behind the campaign – and we regard this as a step in the right direction. We need to see more detail on all of today’s announcements, but it is clear that this is the first meaningful investment in mainstream sixth-form education for a decade."
Jo Grady, general secretary of the University and College Union, said: "Today's funding announcement comes after months of tireless campaigning by trade unions and the further education sector. It is crucially important that colleges use this funding wisely. Staff have borne the brunt of cuts in recent years and closing the £7,000 pay gap between school and college teachers must be the top priority for spending.
"Any funding is to be welcomed, but we need to be clear that it falls well short of the £3 billion needed to restore college budgets to their 2010 levels. It is particularly disappointing that there is no additional funding for adult education, which has seen its budget slashed by over 45 per cent in real terms this decade. The government must dig deeper if it wants to ensure our colleges can deliver transformative education for all those who would benefit."