There is a risk that an expected rise in student numbers over the next decade will not be met with increases in funding, the Association of College’s deputy chief executive has said.
Julian Gravatt was speaking to the AoC’s annual finance conference about the policy and funding landscape for the FE sector.
He pointed to government figures forecasting that the number of 15-year-olds is expected to rise significantly over the next 10 years. According to figures from the Office for National Statistics, there are currently more than 711,000 15-year-olds in the UK. By 2027 this will have surged to 875,485.
'An opportunity for FE'
Mr Gravatt said: “There is a risk, given the possibility of recessions and the continuing restraints the government has, that there will be a growth in students with no extra money and there will just be overcrowded classrooms.”
However, there could be a benefits to the growth in numbers, he added: “There is going to be a shortage of post-16 places, then, of course, that means if you’re in the post-16 business that is potentially going to be an opportunity.
“In 2018 we’re at the bottom of the number of 15-year-olds, so moving forward into the 2020s it is plausible there will be 20 per cent more 16- to 18-year-olds.”
He stressed that government figures were not always totally accurate and that the local picture may be different.