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Last Updated: Wednesday, 10 December, 2003, 11:23 GMT
Adult training courses 'at risk'
Lecture
Some courses will have to close, the AoC says
Up to 70,000 adult training places will be lost next year because of a government funding shortfall of 30m, college heads have warned.

The Association of Colleges said its members would have to double fees to save some courses, or be forced to close them down.

IT skills, languages and practical training are among subjects particularly at risk, it added.

Some 3.5m adults are currently in further education in the UK.

'Scaremongering'

In its Skills Strategy, published earlier this year, the government said its funding priorities would be education for 16 to 18 year olds, adult basic skills and an entitlement to free tuition up to GCSE equivalent for adults.

The AoC, which carried out a survey of finances among its 400 members, claims there is not enough money available even for these, forcing a squeeze elsewhere.

Colleges will have to close more places in 2005-6, it added.

A Department for Education and Skills spokesman dismissed the AoC's claims as "irresponsible scaremongering".

He added: "We are providing significant additional resources to the further education sector for adult learning. Total funding for is set to rise to 2.5bn in 2005-06 from 1.9bn in 2002-03.

"There are no plans to cut the broad range of learning provided by colleges or exclude groups of learners. Colleges will continue to serve the communities within which they are based.

'Extremely worrying'

"Despite the extra resources invested by the Government there can never be unlimited public funds for adult learning. We have a responsibility to set clear agreed priorities."

However, skills training run by colleges for employers was also at risk, the AoC said, because most classes did not lead to GCSE equivalent qualifications.

People wanting to study to technician or A-level standard, where the subject was not deemed a regional priority, would also lose out.

Meanwhile, daytime classes for pensioners, who are no longer considered to be in the workforce, would go, the AoC added.

Chief executive Dr John Brennan said: "These figures are extremely worrying.

"We have been pointing out to the government for some time the disparity between its ambition to drive up skill levels and the resources available to deliver the improvements it is seeking.

"As a nation, it is vital we maintain a comprehensive range of education and skills across all levels, regions and vocational sectors."


SEE ALSO:
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