AoC chief calls on Labour to use tuition fee cut funding to benefit FE

Labour should use extra funding pledged to reduce university tuition fees to help support the FE sector, Association of Colleges (AoC) chief executive Martin Doel has said.

Responding to Labour leader Ed Miliband’s announcement today that his party would reduce the cap on tuition fees charged by higher education institutions from £9,000 to £6,000 a-year, Mr Doel welcomed assurances from Labour that FE funding would not be diverted to fund the cut, a possibility the AoC has warned of before.

But Mr Doel said Labour should go further by using extra cash to support the FE sector. His comments come after FE Week exclusively revealed providers faced a budget cut of up to 24 per cent in 2015/16.

Mr Doel said: “All young people should be supported on whatever pathway they choose post-16 and this is why we would like to see the extra money that the party is finding to support a traditional university education equally used to benefit the higher professional and technical education that equips people with the skills for the workplace.

“We previously had concerns about where the new money would be found to fund a cut in university fees and we’re pleased that they will not be taking it away from FE which has already seen massive cuts in the past few years.”

Announcing the tuition fee policy, Mr Miliband said: “These are fair choices, fair choices that allow a better future for our young people, a better future for Britain. Britain must not penalise the young, if we’re going to prosper in the future. Our economy and our country can’t afford to waste the talent of any young person.

“Let me say to Britain’s young people: I made you a promise on tuition fees. I will keep my promise. I don’t simply want to build your faith in Labour, I want to restore your faith that change can be believed. I owe it to you. We owe it to our country.”

Labour has said the £2.7bn cost of the cap change will be funded by reducing tax relief for people on very high incomes paying into pension schemes so it is set at the same rate as for basic rate taxpayers, capping the total eligible for tax relief in a lifetime at £1m and limiting the annual sum eligible for tax relief at £30,000.