THE number of adults going to college in England has plummeted for the third consecutive year as a result of further education funding cuts, the government’s own figures revealed yesterday.
There were 315,900 fewer people aged over 19 taking courses in 2014-15 compared with the previous year, according to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).
That represents a steep 11 per cent fall in the number of adults in further education in a single year and comes after a 35 per cent funding cut for colleges since the Tories took power.
UCU general secretary Sally Hunt said: “These figures are extremely worrying, and highlight the damage which years of funding cuts have done to further education.”
The government celebrated a 1.8 per cent rise in the number of adult apprenticeship numbers over the same period but the Universty and College Union described it as a “drop in the ocean” compared with falls elsewhere. The union has warned government plans to cut further education funding by 11 per cent in 2015-16 could see as many as 400,000 more students drop out.
“Ministers need to widen their focus and ensure proper support for different kinds of learning. Without more investment in a full range of education, this downward trend in participation is likely to continue, and thousands more will miss out on important opportunities to improve their skills and life chances.”