Select Committee on Education and Skills Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum from the Association of Colleges (SS 19)


  1.  Although much less systematic research has been undertaken into the costs of learning at further education level than in higher education, the evidence available makes clear both that the types of costs are similar (accommodation, living costs, transport, child care, books, equipment, and so on), and that overall levels of expenditure are broadly the same, regardless of academic level.

  2.  The differences in participation among different social classes which are well documented in higher education are already apparent in the 16-19 phase. There can be little doubt that financial factors play an important role in determining whether a student stays on in learning post-16.

  3.  Over two fifths of 16 year olds and around three fifths of 17 year olds hold part-time or casual jobs. While the majority work less than 10 hours per week, some 25 per cent work in excess of 16 hours.

  4.  In real terms expenditure on FE student support is not greatly different (at around £220-230 million per annum) from that prevailing at the beginning of the last decade, despite the rapid expansion in enrolments since then.

  5.  Take up of EMAs is much higher among college students than among those in schools (with over 60 per cent of allowance holders attending colleges).

  6.  A higher proportion of college students receive the maximum EMA allowance—about 80 per cent of those attending college compared with under 70 per cent of those in schools.

  7.  Possession of an EMA appears to improve attendance (one college reports 91 per cent attendance among EMA holders compared with 81 per cent for those without an EMA). It also appears to improve retention (by some 18 per cent in one college and 9 per cent in another).

  8.  It remains the view of AoC that an early national roll-out of the EMA scheme must be a priority, in the interests both of widening participation and of removing geographical inequality.

  9.  In real terms, expenditure on adult student support in FE (now running at about £82 million per annum) is now little more than half that of a decade ago.

  10.  Far greater levels of support are available for those in higher education—in excess of £1.8 billion in loans (at a resource cost of about half that figure), and some £91 million in HE Access Funds in 2001-02, for a student population which in full-time equivalent terms is only slightly greater than that in further education.

  11.  The availability of high quality childcare facilities, accessible on terms which reflect the needs of learners, is inadequate in many areas, and potential learners are disadvantaged.

  12.  AoC has recommended, within its submission to the current spending review, that provision should be made in 2004-05 and 2005-06 for improvements in adult learner support in further education, built around:

    (a)  an increase in college access and childcare funds of £20 million in the first year rising to £40 million in the second;

    (b)  the development of a replacement for the ILA scheme, through which elements of learner support can be channelled;

    (c)  the introduction of a pilot scheme of income contingent loans for level 3 study, with an allocation of £20 million in the first instance.

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