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Funding for Sunderland College

Volume 607: debated on Friday 11 March 2016

The petition of residents of the UK,

Declares that the level of cuts to the further education budget will be damaging to Sunderland College and could lead to the ending of this essential education service and further declares that a petition on this matter was signed by 266 students and staff of Sunderland College.

The petitioners therefore urge the House of Commons to oppose these cuts, and to call for fair funding for further education in England.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.—[Official Report, 16 September 2015; Vol. 599, c.13P]


Observations from the Minister for Skills (Nick Boles): Sunderland College will receive around £25 million in education funding (£19 million from the Education Funding Agency, and £6 million from the Skills Funding Agency) for this academic year.

Adult skills funding

In the spending review announced in November 2015, Government committed not to cuts but to significant overall increases in spending on further education for adults. Funding for the core adult skills participation budgets will be protected in cash terms, at £1.5 billion. We will also double our spending on apprenticeships in cash terms by 2019-20 compared to 2010-11, including income from the new apprenticeship levy. In addition, we will expand Advanced Learner Loans to 19 to 23-year-olds at levels 3 and 4 and to those aged 19 and over at levels 5 and 6 to provide a clear route for students to develop high-level technical and professional skills.

This combination of measures means that the total spending power of the FE sector to support participation will be £3.41 billion by 2019-20, which is a cash terms increase of 40% compared with 2015-16.

16 to 19 funding policy

The funding for all institutions that contain 16 to 19 provision comes from the same national funding formula. The precise amount of funding is based on the numbers of students enrolled in the previous academic year and the types of study programme or training that the institution offers their students. As part of the spending review, we announced that we will protect the national base rate of £4,000 per student for the duration of this Parliament. This will bring stability to the sector, and demonstrates a vote of confidence in 16 to 19 education.

As such, 16 to 19 institutions will continue to be funded for an average of 600 teaching hours per year per full-time 16 to 17-year-old student. This supports a significant programme of study: for example, three A Levels and one AS Level, plus around 150 hours of enrichment or tutorial activity across each two-year course.

That said, like the rest of the public sector, 16 to 19 education will be expected to play its part in tackling the budget deficit, and will need to identify some further savings. The Education Funding Agency (EFA) have set out the detail of savings in 2016-17 within their annual letter to the sector, which is available here: . The Department will set out as soon as possible details of the reductions which will apply in the remainder of the spending review period. For now, I can confirm that formula protection funding (FPF) will be phased out over the next six academic years, so the final year in which any FPF will be payable will be academic year 2020-21.

With regards to Sunderland College specifically, while the college has seen a reduction in their 16 to 19 allocation recently, this is almost entirely driven by declining student numbers. Indeed EFA analysis shows that the average funding per student at Sunderland College has seen very little change over recent years.