HE and adult FE deserve same fees treatment

4th December 2009 at 00:00

Chris Humphries, director general of the UK Commission for Employment and Skills, is right to call ("Fees hike is vital to boost sector power, says skills chief", November 27) for a radical overhaul of fees in "adult" further education and skills, as is happening in higher education with the Independent Review of Higher Education Funding and Student Finance. Yet the fees issue is different between adult FE and HE.

For full-time HE students, the problem of collecting fee income does not arise for higher education institutions - including FE colleges - because payment of the "regulated" fee of up to pound;3,275 per year comes in the form of an income contingent loan. By comparison, colleges have the problem of collecting fees direct from full-time adult FE students who do not qualify for fee remission because there is no large-scale loan system for full- time adult FE fees.

For both part-time HE and adult FE students, however, higher education institutes and FE colleges in general have the problem of collecting fees because, again, there is no large-scale loan system for part-time HE and adult FE fees.

It is time to treat HE and adult FE the same way. If an independent fees review is right for HE it is right for adult FE. And if fee loans are right for full-time and part-time HE students to achieve a first Level 4 qualification, they are right for full-time and part-time adult FE students to achieve a first Level 3 qualification.

Mark Corney, Author of `Funding Upskilling and Reskilling in the 21st Century', published by CfBT Education Trust.

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