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Adult Education

Volume 465: debated on Wednesday 24 October 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what estimate his Department has made of the number of adult education courses available in the UK in each year since 1997. (155092)

[holding answer 10 September 2007]: Funding for further education (FE) increased by 48 per cent. in real terms between 1997-98 and 2005-06. Spending on adult learning continues to increase with over £3 billion in 2007-08, up 7 per cent. on 2005-06. We have chosen to move funding from short, non-accredited learning provision to longer courses focused on those who lack functional literacy and numeracy, and those without a first full level 2 qualification. Most of the reductions in publicly funded adult learning in 2005/06 occurred in lower priority provision (courses outside the national qualifications framework) and very short courses of fewer than nine guided learning hours. We remain committed to ensuring a wide range of learning opportunities for adults. This includes those with learning difficulties and/or disabilities, and learning for its own sake for which we are safeguarding £210 million in 2007-08.

The number of adult learners funded by the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) can be derived from the individualised learner record (ILR). The LSC’s ILR is a census of activity capturing provision that learners enrol on and not the number of courses that are available to learners. The LSC will fund what people want to study and will work to ensure sufficient capacity is in place to meet the demand.

The following table shows the number of adult learners in further education, work-based learning and adult and community learning funded by the LSC since 2003/04 in England. (Numbers of adult learners elsewhere in the UK may be published separately by Welsh Assembly Government, Scottish Executive and Northern Ireland Department of Education.)

Number of learners aged 19 and over (Thousand)








Numbers have been rounded to the nearest 100.


Learning and Skills Council (LSC) individualised learner record (ILR).

Changes to the data collection systems, when adult and community learning provision was funded through local authorities, mean that total figures for earlier years are not comparable.