Love Our Colleges North East
Rebecca Wayman

North East's further education sector gets £400m boost in spite of 30% funding cuts

Local colleges have received a £400m funding boost to further the education on offer in the region.

This is said to be the single largest annual increase for the sector since 2010. The announcement comes after campaigning by the Association of Colleges (AoC) and the sector, culminating in the national Love Our Colleges campaign this May.

The week-long campaign saw governors from local colleges host events and speak to their local MPs, staff, students and local business partners to demonstrate why the chancellor should ensure sustainable investment of colleges in his Comprehensive Spending Review.

The funding for further education and sixth forms is for one year only (2020/21), and though it marks ‘significant’ investment in further education for over a decade, it is only the first step towards sustainable investment for the sector.

Rob Lawson, chair of governors for education partnership North East, said: “Further education colleges are pivotal to our society and the economy. They help business productivity, drive economic growth and are committed to the communities they serve.

“As chair of the board since 2013, I have witnessed first-hand the positive impact education plays in transforming people’s lives by equipping them with the qualifications and skills they need to fulfil their career ambitions and contribute to the wider economy.

“The funding, though welcome, is still not enough to reverse the 30 per cent funding cuts colleges have undergone over the last decade. Falling investment in skills-based education puts colleges at a disadvantage in comparison to our European counterparts.”

Colleges Week 2019 is taking place from October 14 to 18 2019, calling for better and long-term investment and recognition of the role further education colleges and sixth forms play in shaping communities and bolstering the economy.

Helen Golightly, North East Local Enterprise Partnership’s chief executive, added: “Improving skills in the North East is vital if want to strengthen our economy and see more people in senior, professional or technical roles.

“This new funding from government will support our further education sector to deliver high quality training and education, as well as give students of all ages more opportunities to gain higher level skills and qualifications.”

The Love Our Colleges campaign is a partnership between Association of Colleges (AoC), National Union of Students (NUS), Association of College and School Leaders (ASCL), University and Colleges Union (UCU), Unison, GMB, TUC and National Education Union (NEU).

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