Doncaster MPs have hit out over the removal of Government financial support for over 750 Doncaster adults over 24 in further education.
From 2013, learners will no longer receive any direct Government financial support and will have to take out an FE loan of up to £4,000 to cover the cost of their course.
Under the previous Government, funding was available to cover around 50% of the costs of these courses, which is particularly important funding for adults who want to retrain and up-skill. In Doncaster, two thirds of these students have their course fees paid.
Said Caroline Flint: “These learners are often retraining after losing a job; or gaining new skills to improve their prospects of work. When jobs are hard to come by and qualifications help to keep people in work, this is not the right time to be cutting off the funding. I’m really angry that after education maintenance allowances have been stopped; university fees have been tripled; and youth unemployment in Doncaster has more than doubled – this is yet another kick in the teeth for people trying to get on.”
Said Rosie Winterton: “I am very concerned that the Government’s proposals could lead to colleges around the country increasing fees, making it even harder for people to afford these courses. The Government have provided no real evidence to show that many of these learners will be able or willing to take out loans of up to £4,000. The Government has even admitted that one in five will drop out of these courses as a result of the changes.”
Said Ed Miliband: “We need an economy that works for working people and that means the Government should support people who are improving their skills and undertake courses, training and qualifications to get on in life. The out of touch government isn’t doing enough about the to reduce unemployment and I fear that FE loans could deter thousands of adults from applying at all.”
The MPs are warning that the loans coincide with Government cuts to FE funding of 25%, which is likely to lead to a reduction in the quality and range of courses available for adult learners.
Said Rosie Winterton: “The Doncaster MPs will press the Government on this issue and to ensure that adult learners are not deterred from undertaking FE courses. They must rethink this policy.”
Doncaster College has 753 learner affected by the changes. At level 3, learners pay up to £2,360, the average being £680. At level 4, learners pay up to £1,094, the average being £799.