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Friday, 12 July, 2002, 05:46 GMT 06:46 UK
Education fights for funds
Students and teachers will be expectantly looking to the Chancellor's review of public spending next week.

Education is expected to receive a generous share of the extra funds available - but there will be a queue of competing interests waiting to spend it.

Education funding priorities
Student funding
University expansion
Teachers' workload
School budgets
Education maintenance allowances
Further education

Students concerned at growing levels of debt will be looking for extra cash to reform the current system of loans and tuition fees.

The Department for Education, sensitive to headlines about student hardship, has been carrying out a major review of how students are funded through university.

And the type of system that might emerge - but which will not be known until the autumn - will depend on the Chancellor's spending plans.

University challenge

The funding review could increase financial support for students from less well-off families - but it now seems less likely that there will be a graduate tax to re-pay loans.

Students are still awaiting an overhaul of loans and fees

The higher education sector as a whole has been banging the drum loudly for extra money, saying that the targets for more young people to enter university need to be matched by more funding.

So university vice-chancellors will also be expecting a pay-out from Mr Brown.

Widening participation is set to be a theme throughout the education spending plans - with expectations that there will be money for an allowance to keep more teenagers in school.

The "education maintenance allowance", which provides 16 year olds with up to 40 a week to stay in education, is expected to be expanded from pilot schemes to a national programme.

Mr Brown has long planned to fund this by ending universal child benefit for the over-16s who are still in education.

There has been speculation that such allowances might be extended to become part of the funding arrangements for university students.

School drop-outs

Compared with other developed countries, the United Kingdom has a relatively low rate of staying on in education after the age of 16 - and there have been arguments that such a drop-out rate harms the economy.

Teachers have also made clear that they expect the spending review to fund improvements in their working conditions.

Teachers' unions have threatened industrial action unless they receive a shorter working week and a reduction in workload.

Head teachers have also been pressing hard for an increase to school budgets.

More for schools and colleges

A head teachers' union last month attacked the "myth" that schools had already received large funding increases.

And heads warned that 45% of schools will have to cut staff unless they receive a larger basic budget.

A complication is that a new funding mechanism for local authorities - put out to consultation this week - could see budgets frozen for a time.

Again, it all depends on how much Gordon Brown stumps up.

There have also been calls from further education that a cash injection is needed to sustain the sector.

Further education colleges will be at the forefront of any widening participation in education - and there have been calls for extra funding to help raise standards.

The Treasury might have cause for a little scepticism: much to the annoyance of those running education services, the Department for Education and Skills has in recent years failed to spend some 4% of its annual budget - about 1.6bn.

The government's plans for future spending are published on 15 July

Key stories

At the sharp end



See also:

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