THE principals of two colleges which cover the western half of Cornwall have spoken of their concern at the unexpected announcement of further funding cuts for 18-year-old students.
The Education Funding Agency has just announced that from September funding for students in England who are already 18 will be cut by 17.5 per cent, another major reduction to funding levels for post-16 learners.
A Department for Education spokesman defended the decision by saying that the changes would “affect less than a fifth of students”.
However, in a joint statement, the two Cornish principals, Amarjit Basi and David Walrond, argue that these latest cuts would have most impact on some of the most vulnerable students, and actually ran contrary to the country’s current social and economic needs, undermining key government policy aims:
“We would urge the government to re-think their decision,” they said.
“Post-16 education is already funded at a level 22 per cent below that of pre-16 education.
“The great majority of students who are still seeking to improve their qualifications and skills at age 18 are doing so for a variety of reasons, most of them beyond their control. “Many, for example, have completed 11 years at school without a full set of GCSEs, and need in particular to upgrade their English and maths qualifications before progressing further.
“Two thirds of those in 16-19 education and training are in colleges, not school sixth forms. Both locally and nationally, it is colleges in particular who work to improve the qualifications, the skills, and therefore the life chances of these students, including enhancing their prospects to progress to higher education.
“Supporting these students with adequate funding, therefore, is not just about investing in them as individuals; it is about investing in the academic and vocational skills that are crucial to both the Cornish and the national economy.”