Agency review puts 1,600 quals in the funding firing line

Public funding for nearly 700 adult qualifications is to be axed while a further 972 are also at risk following a Skills Funding Agency review, it has been announced.

The agency released lists of qualifications with no or low demand — of fewer than 100 funded enrolments a-year — since August 2012, which it said it would no longer fund from 2015.

Of the 691 qualifications to be scrapped with no demand, 33 were level one, 243 were level two, 289 were level three, 90 were level four while 29 entry level qualifications were also listed to go.

Awarding organisations (AOs) who want to save their qualifications among the 972 with low demand have until December 4 to make their case to the agency.

Federation of Awarding Bodies chief executive Stephen Wright (pictured front page) told FE Week: “I’m happy with the list, as long as the agency responds reasonably to reasonable requests — we’ll be keeping an eye on it.”

He said there were many reasons why an awarding body might want to save a qualification, for example an expected increase in uptake, a course in a sector with skills shortages or a strong uptake for non-funded learners.

The agency was tasked with reducing the number of adult vocational qualifications it funded following the Nigel Whitehead report, published in November last year, which called for 95 per cent of the 19,000-plus adult qualifications to be axed. Meanwhile, last year’s annual review resulted in funding for 1,601 qualifications being cut.

City & Guilds has 88 qualifications set to be cut in this year’s review and a further 223 at risk due to low demand.

Director of product Chris Kirk said: “Low take-up can be the result of small markets, not lack of interest. We have no interest in spending time and effort developing something no one wants.”

He added the organisation would continue to offer non-funded qualifications if demand existed.

A spokesperson for WJEC, which has 14 no demand qualifications on the list and 17 with low demand, said it was “in discussion” with centres over whether to appeal.

A spokesperson for Pearson, with 85 no demand and 158 low demand, said it would also be working with providers on possible appeals.

The agency said providers should speak to AOs about efforts to retain qualifications, who would then make the case for retention.