As I am sure you are aware, huge numbers of people will need to re-train in order for the economy to grow and help us escape from the current economic crisis. Students aged 24 and over who are currently completing A-Level or equivalent qualifications receive 50% of their course funding from the government. From 2013/14, there will be no public subsidy and students will be expected to pay 100% of their course fees via a student loan.
Over 375,000 students would have been affected by this policy if it had been introduced for this year's students. Across the South East region 31,200 learners would have been affected in further education colleges alone. At our local college, K College, 1,730 students studying at level 3 and above would have been affected. Of these 74% are women. At the college for which I work, Canterbury College, 580 students studying at level 3 and above would have been affected. Of these 56% are women. This strikes me as both sexist and ill advised given the current need to improve the skills of the workforce. I believe it will massively reduce the number of adults who are willing and able to access Further Education at a time when this number needs to vastly increase.
Publicly funded Further Education offers huge benefits to this country. Those who complete Further Education qualifications generate £70 billion more for the economy over their working lives than those without qualifications generate. Also, it is worth noting, for every £1 that is invested in an apprenticeship in this country a return of £40 is generated. This represents huge value for money and a massive boost for the economy.
I would therefore ask you to consider doing one of three things. I would ask that you attend Business Questions to ask the Leader of the House for a debate on Further Education Loans, apply for a Westminster Hall/Adjournment debate on the issue or write to the Minister calling on him to scrap this scheme or at the very least delay its introduction.
I look forward to hearing from you soon.
Canterbury College UCU Branch Equality Rep