Labour fee plans `won't hit colleges'

6th March 2015 at 00:00
AoC says lower tuition costs would have `no major impact'

Labour's pledge to cut university tuition fees will not have a negative effect on further education colleges that offer degrees, the Association of Colleges has insisted.

Party leader Ed Miliband said that pound;9,000 tuition fees had been a "disaster" for young people, and promised that if elected Labour would cut fees to pound;6,000 from autumn 2016.

About 130,000 higher education students are currently enrolled in FE colleges, representing almost 10 per cent of the undergraduate market. Nearly 300 colleges offer HE courses designed and accredited by universities, and several offer their own degrees. The majority of colleges currently charge tuition fees significantly lower than those at universities.

But Martin Doel, chief executive of the AoC, told TES there was nothing for colleges to fear from Labour's plans.

"College HE students tend to be local, choosing to study while continuing in work or around family commitments," he said. "We do not see [there being] a major impact on FE college intake as a result of the cuts in university tuition fees."

He also said he was relieved that funding for the move would come from reducing tax relief on pensions for those earning more than pound;150,000 per year. "We previously had concerns about where the new money would be found to fund a cut in university fees, and we're pleased that they will not be taking it away from further education, which has already seen massive cuts in the past few years," he added.

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