Adult education could be funded per learner under Labour

Post-19 funding could be allocated on a per student basis under a Labour government, Shadow Skills Minister Liam Byrne said in a speech today.

Speaking at City of Westminster College this morning, Mr Byrne said the Labour Party was considering the move to bring adult learning in line with 16 to 19 learning.

He said: “It’s… very clear to us that when you’ve got two funding systems, one system for those under 19 and one for those over 18, that creates a lot of headaches, it creates a lot of red tape, it creates a lot of waste.

“So we want your advice on whether we move the post 19 system to a per student basis and not a per qualification basis because that’s the way it works for under 18s and a lot of you have said that to us that is would work better for adult skills.”

Funding on a per learner basis for 16 to 19-year-old learners began at the start of 2013/14 following recommendations to simplify the funding system in the Wolf Review in 2012.

Mr Bryne also pointed to the success of the system in Scotland, where all learners are funded on a per learner basis.

A spokesperson for the Association of Colleges gave the proposal a cautious welcome.

She said: “Both the Education Funding Agency [EFA] and Skills Funding Agency [SFA] changed their funding systems in 2013. We generally get changes every five years in English FE.

“It would be more efficient to bring the EFA and SFA formula into line with each other but there’ll be some issues to work through. As long as these are examined, it’s worth a thought for 2017 or 2018.”