The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has warned the government against cutting spending on students in sixth forms and further education colleges. In a new report, the IFS said that recent additional investment in the 16-18 sector is being eroded by inflation and growing student numbers.
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The IFS added that any attempt to reduce spending in this area would \”sit uncomfortably\” with the government\’s stated commitment to focus on skills and economic growth.
With the Treasury attempting to balance the budget, all government departments are under pressure to identify spending cuts. However, the IFS said cutting education spending in the 16-18 sector would be counterproductive.
Instead, the think tank recommended that the government focus on improving the quality of education and training in this sector to boost the UK\’s economic growth.
According to the IFS, the government\’s current spending plans would see per-student funding in the 16-18 sector fall by 3% between 2019-20 and 2022-23.
This comes after a significant investment in the sixth form and further education colleges, which saw per-student funding increase by 22% between 2010-11 and 2017-18.
However, the IFS said this recent investment has been \”all but eroded\” by inflation and rising student numbers.
The report added that further cuts to education spending in the 16-18 sector would put \”significant pressure\” on sixth form and different education colleges.
One of the report\’s authors, Chris Belfield, said: \”The government has made clear its intention to focus on skills and economic growth.
\”But per-student funding in further education and sixth form colleges is set to fall over the next few years when student numbers are growing.
\”This will put significant pressure on colleges already struggling with large deficits.\”
The IFS report comes after the government announced a major review of further education in England.
The review, which Damian Hinds is leading, will consider how to boost the quality and relevance of further education and increase participation among young people and adults.
Hinds has said that he wants the review to result in a \”step change\” in England\’s status and funding of further education.
The government has also recently announced a new £1.5 billion fund to support the expansion of technical education.
This funding will be used to create new \”centres of excellence\” for technical education and improve the quality of existing provisions.
What do you think about the IFS report? Let us know in the comments below.
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