COLLEGE and sixth form leaders across the area have pleaded with the government not to cut funding for post-16 education.
Next month, chancellor George Osborne will set out the budget for the following year in the government spending review.
education and training for 16 to 18-year-olds is not protected leaving this age group vulnerable to more funding cutsNigel Duncan, Fareham College
Many in the higher education sector fear that 16 to 18-year-olds will be badly hit as the government looks to lower the deficit.
Nigel Duncan is the principal of Fareham College. As a member of the Association of Colleges (AoC), he is joining with other colleges across the country to urge the government to give 16-18-year-olds the same level of funding as those in pre-16 education.
He said: ‘The government has only promised to protect funding for the NHS, schools and international aid.
‘Meanwhile, education and training for 16 to 18-year-olds is not protected leaving this age group vulnerable to more funding cuts.
‘I am sure that the local community would agree with me that providing high-quality education and training to 16 to 18-year-olds in Fareham and Gosport is worth investing in if we are to provide them all with the opportunity that they deserve to continue to a high quality apprenticeship and job with a local business or university.
‘I would ask everyone in the community to make it clear to their local MP before 25 November that they are against further cuts to funding the education and training of our young people.’
Matt Atkinson, principal at St Vincent College in Gosport, said: ‘Although the government are quick to remind everyone of the ring fence around the spending on education, in fact they have only been protecting spending on education for students up to the age of 16.
‘For some time now the spending on sixth form education has already decreased significantly.
‘Unfortunately we are being led to believe that the government’s spending review will lead to a further cut in the funding for the education for 16-18 year olds and this will affect funding for school sixth forms and colleges alike.
‘Potentially this could lead to bigger class sizes and fewer courses for students to choose from. At a time when the country needs more and more well qualified young people this makes no sense.’
Mike Gaston, principal of South Downs College said: ‘Education and training for 16 to 18-year-olds is not protected leaving this age group vulnerable to more funding cuts. We would like to see the same level of funding for 16-18 years olds as that provided for the education of 14-16 year olds.
‘This would reflect costs and ensure the best A-level and professional and technical courses are available, including achievement of good English and maths results.’
John McDougall is the principal at Havant College. He said: ‘Over the last five years, funding has been cut by 30 per cent already.
‘More cuts would affect student experience in terms of the range of opportunities they have. ‘I would ask that the chancellor recognises the cuts in funding that we have experienced already.
‘We have contributed disproportionately in terms of funding in the public sector. I don’t doubt that there will be further cuts but I would request that those be minimal.’