College boss not happy at cuts to adult education funding

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A COLLEGE principal says a funding cut will have ‘a serious impact’ on people who want to take up adult learning courses.

Stella Mbubaegbu, who is also chief executive of Highbury College in Portsmouth, has expressed her dismay about the government’s decision to slash funding for non-apprenticeship adult courses by a quarter.

The announcement has been met with strong opposition following the previous 11 per cent cut last year.

Ms Mbubaegbu outlined the potential pitfalls that the cut would create and the serious consequences on adult learning in the city.

She said: ‘We are very concerned that this 24 per cent cut will have a serious impact on the chances offered to the people of Portsmouth, many of whom further education has given the opportunity to enhance their career prospects.’

Highbury College has 3,000 adult learners across its books and believes that the spending cut will affect tens of thousands of people in the wider Portsmouth area.

The Association of Colleges also issued a statement expressing its fears.

Martin Doel, its chief executive, said: ‘This situation is now urgent.

‘This could be the end of this essential education in every city, town and community in England and the consequences will be felt by individuals and the economy for years to come.’

The AoC expects the cut will affect around 2m people across England. Every college in the country receives its adult learning funds as part of its Adult Skills budget through the Skills Funding Agency.

The SFA in turn receives this money from the government’s Business Innovation and Skills department.

Some £1,327m was spent on adult further education in the country during the 2014-15 academic year.

The new 24 per cent decrease in funds equates to a £318m overall reduction leaving £1,009m in place for the 2015-16 academic year.

Notably, only funds for adult further education within the Adult Skills budget has been cut.

The national concerns are part of a wider fear among further education institutions that a cut on budget will lead to job losses.

The AoC said the average college has made 105 redundancies since 2009/10.