Business secretary Vince Cable said this week he thought it would have been "cowardly" to raid the coffers of FE to avoid the tuition fee hike in universities.
The Lib Dem told the Girls' Schools Association's annual conference on Monday (15 November) that FE was under threat when university funding was being debated.
He said: "The easy option that not many people would have noticed would have been cowardly: we could have savaged the FE sector.
"FE students don't go on the rampage. FE colleges are not illustrious. You don't get letters to the Guardian and The Times about the closure of FE colleges.
"But that would be a very cowardly way out. We have thousands of people going to colleges aged 16 who have to have their literacy and numeracy raised from the standard of a 12-year-old."
"So we are not going to take an axe to FE," he added.