Sixth form colleges are being forced to spend 35 per cent less per student than academies do, according to a report published by London Economics today.

The report, Assessing the value for money in sixth form education, found that on average, academies are able to spend an average of £1,598 more per student than sixth from colleges, due to increased government funding and subsidies.

James Kewin, deputy chief executive of the Sixth Form Colleges Association said: “Despite the outstanding performance of sixth form colleges, the government is obsessed with the idea that every school should become an academy and every academy should have a sixth form.

“As our latest funding impact survey shows, sixth form colleges have reached the point where they cannot absorb any further cuts to their funding, and a cash injection is required to ensure students continue to receive a high quality education.”

Academies receive government funding to cover VAT, insurance and capital costs, while sixth form colleges are required to pay these out of their existing funding — meaning that the average sixth form college spends £335,000 a-year in VAT alone.

The report also noted that academies were able to use the funding they receive for their 11 to 16-year-olds to subsidise their sixth form.

These two funding disparities mean that while an academy can spend £6,158 on a student, sixth form colleges can only afford to spend £4,598.

“We urge the Government to introduce a VAT rebate for sixth form colleges to bring them in line with academy and school sixth forms,” said Mr Kewin.

“This would provide the average sixth form college with an additional £335,000 per year to invest in the front line education of students.”

For more on this, see edition 107 of FE Week (dated Monday, June 23).